Our French connections – Manila Standard

“France is actively working with the Philippines and other countries to strengthen maritime security by exploring the prospects of defense partnerships that can lead to joint patrols to protect the exclusive economic zones of the respective jurisdictions”

Long live France and long live the Philippines!

A fitting cheer as France and the Philippines celebrate 75 years of diplomatic relations with a series of commemorative events that highlight what French Ambassador Michèle Boccoz described in a recent public statement as a long relationship “united by common values”.

The historical heritage of Franco-Philippine relations dates back to 1819 or 128 years before the signing of the Treaty of Friendship in Paris in 1947.

In fact, in the French city of Biarritz, our national hero, Dr. José Rizal, completed his novel “El Filibusterismo”, the second of two literary masterpieces that inspired the Philippine Revolution at a time when values liberal and democratic Europe agitated revolutionary fervor for a national identity and independence vis-à-vis the oppressive colonizers.

Today, the ongoing cooperation with France continues to develop in cultural and economic exchanges, agriculture, science and technology, higher education, cinema and tourism.

In times of disasters, the French Development Agency supports the Credit Facility Agreement (CFA) with funding of 250 million euros for the program to strengthen disaster risk reduction at the local level, a program of decentralization disaster risk reduction and management and climate action mandate to LGUs.

Beyond many areas of partnerships, France has become a stabilizing force in the evolution of geopolitical dynamics in the region with the adoption of an Indo-Pacific strategy in May 2018.

In her published article, Ambassador Boccoz states, “As Indo-Pacific nations, France and the Philippines share a common commitment to upholding international law and multilateralism in the Indo-Pacific.

“This commitment is marked by growing cooperation in defense and security, as well as in the fight against climate change.

On the occasion of the 6th anniversary of the victory of the Philippines in the arbitral award on the Western Sea of ​​the Philippines, France declared its attachment to the international order based on rules in accordance with international law or the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), emphasizing the importance of freedom of navigation and overflight in an open and inclusive Indo-Pacific.

France is actively working with the Philippines and other countries to strengthen maritime security by exploring the prospects of defense partnerships that can lead to the conduct of joint patrols to protect the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of the respective jurisdictions.

The scope of cooperation will extend to disasters and humanitarian relief with long-term timelines.

As an archipelago nation, defending the Philippines’ maritime territories is now a top priority after continued incursions have threatened the lives and livelihoods of Filipino fishermen and extensive damage to precious marine resources crucial to the national food supply. relentlessly persist.

There is an urgent need to modernize the defense capability of the Philippine Armed Forces, especially the Philippine Navy fleet.

In support of the modernization of the Philippine armed forces, France is open to the possibility of joint patrols to secure the EEZs and provide the means and materials necessary for the construction of a Philippine submarine force which has been a kind of illusory dream since the 1950s and which remains unrealized due to an insufficient budget.

It is now hoped that there will finally be funding to acquire the country’s first submarine as part of the Horizon 3 phase of the AFP modernization program.

A submarine force patrolling our maritime territories will be a revolutionary development that will significantly enhance the security of our porous maritime borders, not only against military, terrorist and illicit commercial outflows, but also against the strategically critical protection and preservation of our economic assets. blue.

This dimension of Franco-Philippine bilateral relations will be on the agenda of the international symposium on the theme “Revolutionizing the defense posture of the Philippines with France in the Indo-Pacific” on September 14 and hosted by the Stratbase Group under the high patronage of the French Embassy in Manila.

Strategic initiatives within the framework of the French Indo-Pacific strategy and the Franco-Philippine defense partnership with up-to-date analyzes of potential geopolitical hotspots are among the topics of the event’s program.

Among the esteemed speakers who will grace the event are: Ambassador Michèle Boccoz; Foreign Secretary Enrique A. Manalo; Dr Eric Frécon, Adjunct Fellow of the Institute for Research on Contemporary Southeast Asia, Bangkok and the Institute for Strategic Research of the French Naval Academy; Brig. Gen. Caroline Salahun, Asia-Pacific Director, Directorate General (French) for Armaments.

The uncertainties following the global pandemic crisis compounded by the economic fallout from the war in Ukraine and the emerging geopolitical challenges in the Indo-Pacific call for a renewed commitment to the democratic values ​​and rule of law that have been the foundation of stability that strengthens the engines of economic development.

This is a common concern to which the Philippines must and can respond in partnership with France.