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Duterte security adviser says joint patrols OK if not hostile to China

/ 08:10 PM April 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte’s national security adviser agreed with joint patrols among countries surrounding the South China Sea but not primarily to deter Chinese aggression but to strengthen cooperation.

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, former military chief, was responding to remarks made by retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio recommending joint patrols between the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam in the South China Sea to show a united front against China, which has been using the coronavirus pandemic as a smokescreen for escalated aggression in the disputed area.

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Esperon said he would agree to joint patrols if these meant enforcement of maritime laws and checking violations “in the maritime seas.”

“But if what Justice Carpio was thinking is to wage war, he should just leave it to the defense (establishment),” Esperon said in Filipino.

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“We recognize him in the arena of justice but he shouldn’t be dipping his hands on waging war,” added Esperon at an online briefing.

Carpio had also suggested that if joint patrols with Malaysia and Vietnam didn’t stop Chinese intrusion, the Philippines should consider joining maritime patrols of the United States.

“We’re sending a message to China that it cannot pick us out one by one. We are united,” the retired justice said.

Palace spokesperson Harry Roque said the Executive would look into Carpio’s recommendation but does not agree with the retired justice’s opinions about the South China Sea dispute.

Esperson said he will also call for a meeting of the National Task Force on West Philippine Sea on Tuesday (April 28) to discuss recent developments in the resource-rich waters, including the aiming of guns by a Chinese warship at a Philippine Navy vessel in Philippine territory.

He said the task force, which he chairs, meets weekly.

Last week, the Philippine government filed a diplomatic protest against China for getting its weapons systems ready to fire at a Philippine Navy ship near the Rizal (Commodore) Reef in the West Philippine Sea.

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China also had recent brushes with Vietnam and Malaysia—the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat in the Paracel Islands and the deployment of a Chinese survey ship to Malaysian waters.

China has been insisting that it owned the entire South China Sea and all its sea lanes.

Beijing based its claims on its mythical nine-dash line which had been rejected in 2016 by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in a case filed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei which have claims in the area.

Edited by TSB

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TAGS: aggression, Antonio Carpio, Claims, dispute, Hermogenes Esperon, intrusion, joint patrols, Maritime, National Task Force, South China Sea, Territory, West Philippine Sea
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