Philippine Embassy, Canberra
1 Moonah Place, Yarralumla, ACT 2600
www.philembassy.org.au *Tel. No. 02-6273-2535*
Philippines-Australia defense cooperation celebrated in Service Attaches Dinner and Photo Exhibit
Left photo: Philippines Defense and Armed Forces Attaché to Australia Col Romeo N Bautista III PA (GSC) and Philippines Ambassador to Australia Ma. Hellen B. De La Vega hosted a dinner and photo exhibit on 23 July at the National Press Club in Canberra.
Right photo: Ambassador De La Vega delivered an address to mark the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations of the Philippines and Australia.
28 July 2021, CANBERRA – The Office of the Philippines Defense and Armed Forces Attache hosted a photo exhibit on the milestones of the defense relations of the Philippines and Australia on 23 July at the iconic National Press Club in Canberra.
The exhibit paid tribute to Captain Jesus Villamor, Filipino fighter pilot who was also trained in Australia to serve as intelligence agent in the Philippines during the second world war. He sent reconnaissance reports to General Macarthur’s headquarters in Brisbane providing crucial intelligence on Japanese naval movements before and during the decisive 1944 Battle of Leyte Gulf. In Australia, Villamor was also appointed director and instructor at the Officers’ Pilot Training Unit in Williamtown, Queensland. Villamor Air Base, the Philippines Air Force headquarters, is named after the celebrated World War II hero.
The exhibit also celebrated the historic and dynamic defense cooperation of Australia and the Philippines that was forged during World War II and formally established on 22 August 1995 through the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Cooperative Defense Activities. Australia is one of only two Status of Visiting Forces Agreement partners of the Philippines.
These agreements allowed the two countries to undertake joint exercises, high-level visits, dialogues and exchanges. In December 2019, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Program was established that builds on the robust defense relationship including counter-terrorism efforts.
This year, the Philippines and Australia commemorate 75 years of diplomatic relations. The formal diplomatic relations between the two countries was established with the declaration of an independent Philippine Republic on 04 July 1946. During the great conflict of the Second World War, Australia supported the liberation of the Philippines in 1944 sending over 4,000 defense force personnel recognizing that the invasion of the Philippines would have been one step towards an attack on Australia itself. Among these, 92 Australian defense force died during the liberation of the Philippines. In Australia, Filipinos were among those who perished in the bombing of Darwin in 1942.
In her remarks, Her Excellency Ma. Hellen B De La Vega, Philippine Ambassador to Australia, said, “This shared history laid the foundation for what Filipinos call ‘bayanihan’ and what the Australians call ‘mateship’ between our two peoples.”
The photo exhibit was the highlight of the Service Attachés and Advisers Group (SAAG) dinner hosted by the Philippine Defense Attache’s office. Over forty (40) embassies in Canberra represented by their Defense Attachés attended the dinner.
The first Philippine Defense and Armed Forces Attaché in Australia, Col Ernesto Del Castillo PA, assumed his post on 01 October 1956. Col Romeo N Bautista III PA (GSC) is the current Philippine Defense and Armed Forces Attaché to Australia. -- END
Ambassador De La Vega and Col Bautista viewing the exhibit with guests during the Service Attachés and Advisers Group dinner on 23 July at the National Press Club.