Jul 17, 2024

Canadian Minister of National Defence Bill Blair recently met his Philippine counterpart, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr.

July 1, 2024 — Canadian Minister of National Defence Bill Blair has concluded a visit to Asia to boost defence cooperation with Indo-Pacific allies and partners, including the Philippines.

 Blair traveled to Singapore from May 31 to June 2, 2024 to attend the Shangri-La Dialogue of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), a global think tank.

 A UK charity with offices in London, Washington DC, Singapore, Bahrain, and Berlin, IISS bills the Shangri-La Dialogue as Asia’s premier defence summit.

At the sidelines of the event, Blair met with Gilbert Teodoro Jr., who is the Minister of National Defense of the Philippines.

A Government of Canada media release on June 2, 2024 noted that in his meeting with Teodoro Jr., Blair “recognized that 2024 marks 75 years of Canada-Philippines diplomatic ties”. 

Blair also “reaffirmed Canada’s commitment to growing bilateral defence relations”. 

“The Minister and Secretary discussed the defence cooperation activities outlined in the Defence Cooperation Memorandum of Understanding signed in January 2024 and the implementation of Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy,” the media release stated.

Blair also held separate meetings with his defence counterparts from Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Singapore.

The Philippine News Agency reported on June 1 that in his meeting with the Canadian defence minister, Teodoro Jr. of the Philippines reaffirmed the "long, enduring friendly relations" between the two countries.

Also, Blair strongly lauded the Philippines for forging defense and security alliances with countries such as the U.S., Japan and South Korea.

"Canada has a major role to play in the Indo-Pacific region," Teodoro said in return in the PNA report.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on May 31 delivered the keynote address to formally open the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue.

In his address, Marcos Jr. stated that the “notion of Shangri-La conjures up a mystical sense of tranquillity, of free souls living in peace and harmony”.

“And it may sound like a wishful concept,” the Philippine president continued, “but it is symbolic of a continuing dream: an international community that lives in peace, upholds the rule of law and enables all nations to thrive in pursuit of their respective aspirations.”

“We Filipinos are paragons of this dream. Our history reflects our commitment to the values that 

engender amity, fraternity and sovereign equality amongst nations. Our commitment to peace and to the rule of law inheres in how we have defined our sovereign home,” Marcos Jr. said.

In his remarks at the plenary session, Blair announced the deployment of three Royal Canadian Navy vessels to Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC).

The Government of Canada release noted that in RIMPAC, Canadian sailors will operate alongside Indo-Pacific allies and partners. 

“This year, the maritime component of the exercise will be led by a Canadian commodore – demonstrating Canada’s commitment to leadership as we engage with Indo-Pacific partners. Following RIMPAC, HMCS Vancouver will continue on to a deployment in the Indo-Pacific through Operation HORIZON, Canada’s revamped Indo-Pacific military mission. Thanks to Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, Canada is now deploying three frigates per year to the region for the second year in a row. 

“The Minister also announced that Canada has joined the Multilateral Initiative for Defence Industrial Base Resilience in the Indo-Pacific, launched at the Shangri-La Dialogue by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III. This important initiative will ensure that Canada and its partners in the Indo-Pacific can develop a resilient defence industrial base ready with the necessary technological footings to face potential challenges in the region.”

Sir John Chipman is the executive chairperson of IISS, and he also delivered remarks at the Shangri-La Dialogue to introduce Marcos Jr.

Chipman noted that the Philippines is seeing significant GDP growth of 7.6 percent in 2022, 5.6 percent in 2023, and “likely to rise above that this year”. 

“Economic security from agriculture to trade and investment remains a key focus of his administration,” Chipman said about Marcos Jr.

Moreover, “Under his presidency, the Department of National Defense has renewed or upgraded its partnerships with the United States, Australia and Indonesia, whilst signing six major defence and security MoUs [memoranda of understanding] with Brazil, the United Kingdom, Canada, Vietnam, India and Australia. It has also advanced reciprocal access agreements with Japan and France.”


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