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CAMP AGUINALDO, Quezon City – The Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) met with the Commander of the United States Seventh Fleet on Friday, June 11.

General Cirilito Sobejana hosted the meeting with Admiral William Merz and his team at the Chief of Staff's office in General Headquarters Building, Camp Aguinaldo where they discussed about the robust partnership between the AFP and U.S. Armed Forces.

In their meeting, the AFP Chief took the opportunity to express the organization’s gratitude to the United States’ for providing assistance to the national vaccination program.

“The AFP is grateful to the United States’ commitment in working closely with the Philippine government throughout the pandemic to protect public health. The arrival of AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines greatly augments the government’s efforts to ensure our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” General Sobejana said.

The Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences (AFRIMS) initiated by the U.S. Army in 2009 has been extending opportunities to the medical laboratory technologists at V. Luna Medical Center on biosafety, biosecurity, respiratory sample processing and storage, and COVID-19 testing techniques.

The Admiral for his part was thankful for the growing partnership between the U.S. Armed Forces and the AFP. He cited the annual Balikatan Exercises as a clear manifestation of both countries’ long-standing military alliance.

Admiral Merz assumed command of the U.S. 7th Fleet in September 2019 and embarked aboard USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan.

He previously led the Naval Mine & Anti-Submarine Warfare Command (NMAWC) and Task Force 77 in San Diego, Task Force 54 in Bahrain, and Submarine Group Seven and Task Force 74 in Japan.

“The AFP and the U.S. Armed Forces’ cooperation and partnership will continue to thrive while we mutually find ways to step up our initiatives in addressing current security concerns. We shall keep developing visionary bilateral action plans in addressing potential future security concerns to maintain regional peace,” General Sobejana said./// (Photo by SN1 Donald Viluan PN/PAOAFP)