UNITED States (US) Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is back in the Philippines after nearly a year and a half.

Austin arrived in the country on Tuesday evening, January 31, 2023. He was welcomed by US Ambassador to the Philippines Marykay Carlson.

In a Twitter post, Austin said he will meet with Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. and other senior government officials “to build on our strong bilateral relationship, discuss a range of security initiatives, and advance our shared vision of a #freeandopenpacific.”

The meeting is set on Thursday, February 2.

Carlson said Austin’s visit “shows the United States’ ironclad commitment” to the Philippines.

Austin first visited the country in July 2021 where he met then President Rodrigo Duterte and other government officials. (SunStar Philippines)