Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr has said that his government will pursue "more robust collaboration" with "friends" such as India as collaborative endeavours to build pillars that support the architecture of regional stability.

“Under our Comprehensive Archipelagic Defence Concept, we shall develop our capacity to project our forces into areas where we must by constitutional duty and by legal right protect our interest and preserve our patrimony...And as we build our defence capabilities, so shall we continue to invest in diplomacy,” Marcos said at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue on Friday night.

He said the Philippines would "also pursue more robust collaboration with friends such as South Korea, India, amongst others, collaborative endeavours among a few states that share specific interests built into pillars that support the architecture of regional stability”.

“As we work to uphold the rule of law in international affairs, so shall we build our capabilities to protect our interest in our maritime domain and the global commons,” the president said, underlining the increasing tension in the South China Sea and the vast Indo-Pacific region.

In April, the Philippines took delivery of India’s BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles as part of a USD 375 million deal signed by the two countries in 2022.

BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited (BAPL), a joint venture company of India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), signed a contract with the Philippines in January 2022 to supply Shore-Based Anti-Ship Missile System.

Observers said such deals, and many more to be expected, put Manila-New Delhi in growing diplomatic and trade relations amidst China's aggressive activities in the region.

Recently, an Indian naval ship paid a goodwill visit to the Philippines and there are multilateral cooperation agreements between India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which the Philippines is a leading member.

India-ASEAN regularly holds maritime exercises and naval ship visits are part of the total understanding to gain knowledge of each fellow member country's maritime capacities, the observers opined.

Addressing the defence-security-focused three-day dialogue that kicked off on Thursday, Marcos underlined commitment to ASEAN centrality, saying it shall remain a core element of his country’s foreign policy.

“Simultaneously, we shall strengthen our alliance with the United States and our strategic partnerships with Australia, Japan, Vietnam, Brunei and all the other ASEAN member states. In this spirit, we pursue trilateral collaboration with Indonesia and Malaysia in the Celebes Sea,” he told international diplomats and delegates comprising defence experts at the event.