AFP confirms seeking US help
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday confirmed that the Philippine government has sought the help of the United States in securing the resupply missions to the disputed South China Sea.
AFP chief Gen. Hernando Iriberri said Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin made the request to Admiral Harry Harris Jr., chief of the US Pacific Com, who recently ended his three-day visit to the country.
“It was requested. It was the secretary of national defense who requested it,” said the AFP chief in an interview in Camp Aguinaldo.
However, the military official did not disclose the details on how the United States can help the Philippine government in the resupply missions to its troops stationed in the West Philippine Sea.
Harris reportedly said “he will have to look into it first” when Gazmin made the appeal for help.
“We cannot speak for them, how they will do it, when they will do it, but definitely we have already agreed on some matters on how we can further strengthen and prepare for some cooperative actions on the request of the defense secretary,” said Iriberri.
Harris met separately with Gazmin and President Aquino on Wednesday. The following day, he was welcomed by Western Command chief Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez in Palawan, during which the West Philippine Sea dispute was discussed.
In the past, Chinese forces had attempted to block the Philippines’ resupply missions to its outpost on the disputed Ayungin Shoal, which is also being claimed by China.
The Philippine Navy ran aground a rusting ship at the shoal years ago to serve as the military’s outpost in the contested territory.
China is claiming the entire South China Sea, parts of which is also being claimed by the Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations.
The Chinese government has made massive expansion and reclamation activities in the disputed territory despite the protests of the Philippine government and other countries.
Lopez said Harris has stressed that the United States is for regional stability and security amid the ongoing tension with China over the West Philippine Sea.
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