A “meeting of the minds,” this was what the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) called the visit of US Pacific Command head Admiral Harry Harris to Western Command (WESCOM) headquarters in Puerto Princesa, Palawan Thursday. WESOM’s area-of-responsibility includes islands of Palawan and Kalayaan, including the disputed Spratly Islands group.
“Admiral Harris wanted to be appraised of the situation on the ground and follow on a previous meeting with Vice Admiral Alex Lopez, Commander of WESCOM who he met earlier in Singapore during the Shangri-La Dialogue,” said AFP spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla.
Harris arrived in the Philippines Wednesday and visited ranking Filipino military and political leaders making his trip to WESCOM headquarters Thursday. “Admiral Lopez afforded him a thorough organizational and situational briefing on his command and its area-of-operation,” he added.
In the same vein, the US official’s stopover at Western Command was dubbed by AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Hernando DCA Iriberri as a “sort of area familiarization for the new Commander of the Pacific Command.”
He summed Harris’ visit as a great opportunity to further enhance a long lasting and enduring alliance.
It was also in furtherance of a collective effort at ensuring regional security and stability as well as leveling of expectations.