The Philippines also offered to boost ties with Australia to the level of a strategic partnership, with President Aquino saying that it is “high time” for two countries that “have shared values, shared background, shared aspirations and perhaps also shared problems” to step up cooperation.
While Australia has yet to officially respond to this request, current bilateral relations are good as the two countries have been steadfast partners in trade, development, good governance and security.
Australia is the Philippines’ primary partner, along with the United States, in the implementation of the Coast Watch South (later known as the Coast Watch System) program, which seeks to improve the Philippines’ maritime domain awareness and border security. In 2007, the two countries signed the Status of Visiting Forces Agreement (SOFVA), which entered into force in September 2012. The SOFVA is an agreement between the Philippines and Australia that establishes procedures for exchanges of troops. The SOFVA provides a comprehensive legal framework for the presence of Australia’s forces in the Philippines and the latter’s forces in the former. The two parties assume the same obligations under this reciprocal agreement.