Amid China’s aggressiveness in the West Philippine Sea, the Philippines and United Kingdom are seeking to forge a new defense agreement that will expand military, security and disaster response cooperation. The new agreement may be finalized before October, British Ambassador to the Philippines Asif Ahmad said.

“It’s actually being redone now. We actually have an existing one but by the end of this calendar year we want to establish a new one,” Mr. Ahmad said.

“Treat it more like an umbrella under which we can do many, many things. But at least there’s permission within that. It’s not as complicated as the one with the US,” he added.

He made clear that it is not like the Visiting Forces Agreement between US and Philippines. However, he said that UK is not ruling out the possibility of a strategic partnership.

“I don’t rule that out. But right now, it would be wrong for me to say that’s next on the horizon because we are at all sorts of stretches of commitment. But there are lot of military exchanges today,” he said.

This is after Philip Hammond’s visit to Manila last week. The British Foreign Secretary met with his counterpart Secretary del Rosario to discuss ways to enhance bilateral cooperation on foreign and security policy issues.

“The British government is committed to strengthening our partnership even further and working together to tackle issues of regional and global concern as strong supporters of a rules-based international order,” Hammond said. -John Esconde