Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has announced the provision of medical supplies and PPE to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to support the Indo-Pacific partner’s COVID-19 response.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds has wrapped up her tour of the Indo-Pacific with a visit to the Philippines, where she met with Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana.
During her visit, Minister Reynolds announced that Australia would provide up to $2 million in medical and personal protective equipment (PPE) to support the country’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Minister Reynolds, the funds will be used to better equip infectious disease wards at the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ five main medical centres.
The supplies include beds, mechanical ventilators, electrocardiogram machines, laboratory fridges, cardiac monitors, pulse oximeters, and UV sterilisers.
This latest contribution builds on the $1 million in support that Australia provided via its Enhanced Defence Cooperation Program for the expansion of the infectious disease ward of the Victoriano Luna Medical Center in Manila earlier this year.
The ministers also reaffirmed their shared commitment to maintaining regional security, making specific reference to tensions in the South China Sea.
The pair expressed support for the rights of all states to exercise freedom of navigation and overflight in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The ministers also noted recent efforts to strengthen defence ties between the countries, which included ongoing counter-terrorism co-operation under the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Program, established in December 2019.
The program builds on Operation Augury-Philippines, which delivered counter-terrorism capacity training to over 10,000 members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines between 2017 and 2019.
Minister Reynolds said the nations would also continue to co-operate through the conduct of COVID-safe exercises between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Australian Defence Force, and defence industry co-operation.
“The Philippines is an important security partner for Australia, and we continue to work closely together in support of our shared commitment to an open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific,” Minister Reynolds said.