Metro Manila, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will meet with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin when he visits Manila this week, Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez confirmed on Tuesday.

“It is really more of getting to know each other. It is an ongoing relationship that we have with the United States. As President Marcos pointed out — it is evolving,” the ambassador said in a press briefing.

Romualdez added that Austin has also requested a meeting with his Filipino counterpart, Carlito Galvez Jr.

He said Austin’s visit aims to reinforce key agreements between Manila and Washington — including the Mutual Defense Treaty, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement or EDCA, and the Visiting Forces Agreement.

‘Unwavering commitment’

Austin’s trip comes amid ongoing tensions between the Philippines and China in the hotly-contested South China Sea — where the US has affirmed its “unwavering commitment” to support Manila in asserting its maritime rights.

“We must stand up for principles such as respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity,” US Vice President Kamala Harris said during her visit to Palawan in November last year.

“We must reiterate always that we stand with you in terms of defense of international rules and norms as it relates to the South China Sea, and an armed attack on the Philippine Armed Forces, public vessels or aircraft in the South China Sea would invoke US defense commitments. And that is an unwavering commitment that we have to the Philippines,” she added.