Photo credit: Kawal Pinoy

U.S. President Barack Obama pledged to support Asia-Pacific allies to promote maritime security as part of talks with leaders in Manila, Philippines, Tuesday.

“My visit here underscores our shared commitment to the security of the waters of this region and to the freedom of navigation,” according to Obama.

The White House announced a package of up to $79 million USD or P3.7 billion PHP ($1 = P47) for the Philippines in new aid over the course of two years.

The U.S. is also transferring two naval ship, a Coast Guard cutter and a research vessel to the Philippines.

Obama toured the Philippine’s naval flagship, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, which once belonged to the U.S. Coast Guard, but now serve as counterterrorism missions and patrols disputed areas in the South China Sea.

“More capable navies and partnership with the United States are critical to the security of this region,” Obama added.

Obama and other leaders will attend high-level APEC meetings starting tomorrow.