Lorenzana: Intelligence sharing with China can be done immediately
The Department of National Defense (DND) is open to intelligence sharing with China’s military but joint anti-terror exercisers will have to wait, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Monday.
Lorenzana said intelligence sharing with the Chinese can be done “immediately” because there was an existing military agreement on the issue between Manila and Beijing but there was none for joint military exercises.
“Intelligence sharing can be done immediately. We have a military-to-military agreement which covers visitation of students..an exchange of students from our schools to their schools and trips of our officials to there and back,” Lorenzana said.
“The exercises will need an enabling law or agreement, like our visiting forces agreement with the US and Australia, so that they can stay here for an extended period for two weeks or one month to exercise with us and we in their area also,” he said.
“So, that will still take a long time…not in the near future maybe,” the defense chief added.
Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua on Thursday said China and the Philippines should share intelligence and hold joint military exercises due to the threat of terrorism in the region.
“I think it is very important for the two militaries to exchange best practices, share intelligence, and even consider the possibility of having joint training exercises because the objective is clear,” Zhao said.
“It is in the interest of not only China and the Philippines but also in the region, for us to deal effectively with the threat of terrorism,” he added.
However, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio in May said the Philippines cannot yet forge a visiting forces agreement (VFA) with China because of the dispute over the West Philippine Sea.
“It’s difficult to have a VFA with a country that’s claiming your territory and your maritime zones. How can you have naval exercises in West Philippine Sea if you are doing it with a country that’s claiming that West Philippine Sea?” Carpio said.
“Normal relations can continue but there are other matters that we cannot do, like we cannot have a visiting forces agreement with them,” he added. JE
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