Military sees tensions easing after Aquino’s China visit | Global News

Military sees tensions easing after Aquino’s China visit

By: - Reporter / @deejayapINQ
/ 08:40 PM September 03, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—The rekindling of the country’s friendly ties with China in the wake of President Aquino’s visit to that country is expected to greatly ease tensions in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), the Armed Forces of the Philippines  said.

AFP Chief of Staff Eduardo Oban Jr. said Aquino’s meetings with top Chinese leaders would likely translate to less intrusions by the Chinese  into the country’s waters or airspace, particularly within the vicinity of the disputed Spratly islands.

“Probably, the effect of such cordial relations at a policy level will go down the line; that is, it will reach downward and lead to a peaceful resolution of any conflict or disputes in the West Philippine Sea,” he said in an interview Friday night.


“That would be probably translated into such an eventuality,” Oban said in reply to a question on whether he expected fewer run-ins with Chinese vessels or jet fighters over Philippine-claimed territories.


But he stressed that the Philippines would continue its modernization and capability-building efforts.

“For us in the Armed Forces, as I always say, our capability development is not geared toward  any country. We just have to protect our resources,” Oban told reporters.

He cited ongoing programs for the procurement of two more Hamilton-class cutters for the Navy and six  jet fighters for the Air Force.

The Philippines recently acquired the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar, a 378-foot Hamilton-class cutter from the United States Coast Guard, which the Navy will use to patrol the country’s waters in the West Philippine Sea.

“Yes, it’s in the program.  But there will be a lot of work to do still. We still have to find out if there are still equipment available,” he said of plans to acquire two more Hamilton-class vessels, the first of which, he added, might occur “early next year.”

On the planned purchase of jet fighters, Oban said the Air Force is coming up with the technical specifications, which it should finalize soon.


He said the AFP would remain vigilant in patrolling and protecting the country’s claims in the West Philippine Sea, particularly those within its exclusive economic zone.

The Spratly group of islands, a reputedly oil-rich chain of tiny islands and reefs, is located near Palawan. The chain is claimed wholly or in part by the Philippines, China, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Taiwan.

In 2002, countries with claims to the Spratly islands signed the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, which was to serve as a non-binding guideline on how to tackle the disputes.

In early 2011, the AFP reported instances of Chinese intrusions, including two Chinese vessels that allegedly harassed a Philippine exploration ship at Reed Bank in March, prompting the Philippines to send planes and some of its coast guard ships to the area.

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This was followed by a string of other incidents over the next few months that drew protest from the Philippines. China then issued strong words warning the Philippines about its statements.

For comprehensive coverage, in-depth analysis, and the latest updates on the West Philippine Sea issue, visit our special site here. Stay informed with articles, videos, and expert opinions.

TAGS: China, Defense, Foreign affairs, Philippines, Security, South China Sea, Spratly Islands, Spratlys, West Philippine Sea

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