Lorenzana: No joint maritime patrols with Japan
SANGLEY POINT — There will be no joint maritime patrols between Japan and Philippines happening anytime soon.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Monday they cannot hold a maritime patrol with Japan because there is no mechanism yet to allow such.
“There is none. We don’t have mechanism for joint patrol with Japanese naval forces in the West Philippine Sea but for freedom of navigation, I think anybody can pass through. Innocent passage is allowed in the international law,” he told reporters in a press briefing after the formal turnover of TC-90 patrol planes from Japan at Heracleo Alano naval base in Cavite City.
Japan and the Philippines, which Japanese State Minister of Defense Kenji Wakamiya described as one of its “closest friends,” share a rival claimant in China over the East China Sea and the South China Sea.
Wakamiya stressed the importance of freedom of navigation in keeping the “peace and stability” in the region. And while they don’t have joint patrols yet, they are continuing their efforts with ASEAN counties in the areas of capacity building and by joining multilateral exercises.
“We don’t have specific things we can say about joint patrols at the moment but we will continue our involvement in multilateral programs,” he said through an interpreter.
On Monday, the Philippine Navy received the first two of the five TC-90 patrol planes from Japan, aimed to boost the country’s maritime awareness capabilities. The Philippines will pay a total of US $28,000 per year for the aircraft until they reach a legal framework that would allow Japan to donate defense equipment to foreign countries.
“At the moment in our Japanese parliament, there is a bill regarding the amendment of our law that will allow granting of use of defense equipment to countries overseas, but as of the moment, the bill is in deliberation in the parliament,” Wakamiya said. JE
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