AFP chief orders temporary suspension of sending military officers to China
MANILA, Philippines — Following China Coast Guard’s water cannon attack against Philippine vessels, Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. has ordered the temporary suspension of sending officials to China for their studies.
Brawner revealed this during the deliberation of the Commission on Appointments for his appointment and 29 other officers.
“After that incident last August 5, the blocking of our resupply ship and the water cannoning of our Coast Guard, I ordered the temporary stoppage of sending officers to China,” Brawner said in response to Senator Francis Tolentino’s question if the country is still sending military officials to study in China.
Brawner is referring to August 5 incident in Ayungin Shoal where Chinese Coast Guard’s vessels used water cannons against Philippine boats supplying the BRP Sierra Madre, a commissioned Philippine Navy vessel which has hosted a small contingent of military personnel since 2009 to assert the country’s claim in the West Philippine Sea.
The official also pointed out that China invited the Philippines to send cadets in a conference, which the Armed Forces of the Philippines declined.
“In fact, last week there was a communication, an invitation, from China for us to send cadets to China to join a conference of cadets all over the world,” Brawner said.
“Dati na po tayong nagpapadala, so hininto muna natin, hindi muna tayo magpapadala this year [For a long time we’ve been sending, so we are temporarily stopping it this year],” he added.
Brawner also ordered the further review of the ongoing military exchange program with China.
“I have also ordered the further study of this memorandum of agreement on defense cooperation that we have with China,” the top military official said.
“It’s not just the sending of soldiers pero talagang pag-aaralan na natin talaga kung ano ang magiging military relations natin with China especially after the incidents that happened.
(It’s not just the sending of soldiers but we really need to study what will be our military relations with China especially after the incidents that happened.)
“Baka kailangang pong i-revisit natin ito baka kailangan natin ayusin yung ibang provisions dito and to make sure China agrees with that. So ‘yun po ang ating direction,” he continued.
(Perhaps we need to revisit this, maybe we need to arrange other provisions and to make sure China agrees with that. So that’s our direction.)
Senators previously expressed alarm on sending senior officers to military schools in Beijing, with Senator Raffy Tulfo calling it a “slap on the face.”