PH may conduct joint patrols in South China Sea with US, Asean, says Tolentino
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines may conduct joint maritime patrols in the South China Sea with the United States or with countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), Senator Francis Tolentino said on Wednesday.
The Philippine Coast Guard earlier reported that a Chinese Coast Guard vessel drove away a Filipino fishing boat in Ayungin Shoal, which is 315 kilometers west of Palawan.
“I have been espousing that to have joint US-Philippine Coast Guard patrols but we might even extend that to be multilateral patrol to include other Asean claimants to ensure the freedom of navigation, exercise of fishing rights, among others,” Tolentino said on ANC Headstart.
“It will need not just a sole Philippine initiative, but the inclusion and involvement of other countries interested or not, but interested in maintaining freedom of navigation in the area,” he added.
The senator added that the US-Philippine activities could be expanded to other activities to promote Filipino fishers rights in the maritime area.
“It’s time — it’s not just for joint patrol. I would think that it can expand to disaster-related exercises, joint operations concerning disaster mitigation, etcetera, and perhaps in ensuring that the fishermen from whatever jurisdictions can — with agreements, of course — can freely utilize the fruits of the sea,” Tolentino said.
The reported harassment came despite President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s state visit to Beijing wherein Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged for a solution to the plight of Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea.
The West Philippine Sea, parts of which are in the South China Sea, is a territory of the Philippines.
In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that the Philippines has sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea, invalidating China’s nine-dash line claim in the South China Sea.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.