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Philippines, Australia Conduct Joint Navy Exercises

The Philippine Navy (PN) and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) conducted a joint maritime exercise on Saturday, Exercise Lumbas 2021, with the goal of “promoting peace and stability” in the region.

As reported by the Philippine News Agency, the local missile-frigate BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) drilled with two RAN vessels. The naval exercises covered “maneuver exercise, division tactics, and formations in column and abreast using NATO coded messages.”

Australian Ambassador Steven Robinson AO said Australia was “very pleased” with the visit of the Australian vessels to the Philippines.

“This visit reflects the spirit of mateship and bayanihan [A Filipino term similar to camaraderie] during our 75th Anniversary of diplomatic relations. It also demonstrates the increasing mutual trust and cooperation between the Australian Defence Force and the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” he said. “It is part of our robust and longstanding engagement with the Philippines to promote a secure, open, prosperous, and resilient region.”

Following the exercise, the two Australian frigates, with tanker HMAS Sirius, docked in Manila as part of the Indo Pacific Endeavour 2021, which lasted for three days.

Duterte on AUKUS Alliance

In the past week, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States announced the AUKUS alliance, a trilateral security pact for the Indo-Pacific region.

Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte expressed concern that the alliance between the three big nations “could trigger a nuclear arms race.” It is viewed as a counter to China’s growing power and aggression in the region.

Under the AUKUS alliance, the US and the UK will help Australia acquire new nuclear submarines.

“But he will discuss this further with the Cabinet and will come up with a clear position after the meeting of the Cabinet,” Philippine Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

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