MANILA, Philippines – Port calls by the United States navy to the Philippines will continue despite the damage its minesweeper sustained on Tubbataha Reefs Park in Sulu Sea recently.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Monday said the port calls will continue as part of the “international world.”
“This is part of our relation with the international world. If there’s a request for port call, for as long as there is nothing unusual in the port call we do accept port calls…, it has nothing to do with what happened to Tubbataha,” he told reporters in an ambush interview.
The 63-meter and 1,300-ton USS Guardian had been stuck in the famed reef since January 17. It docked in Subic Bay on January 12 for a fuel stop, and was scheduled to dock in Puerto Princesa City and then head to India when the incident happened nearly two weeks ago.
The port calls are said to be covered by the Visiting Forces Agreement between the United States and the Philippine governments in 1999.
More visits of warships are expected as the United States announced last year its military strategy to reposition its Navy Fleet in the Asia Pacific region in the coming years.