PH, US plan more ‘joint sail’ in WPS, open for more participants
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines and the United States are planning to conduct more joint sail in the West Philippine Sea as they also welcome the possibility of more countries joining the maritime activity.
General Romeo Brawner Jr., chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and US Indo-Pacific commander Admiral John Aquilino announced this development on Thursday after their annual Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board meeting.
“We’ll continue to do that for a long term,” Aquilino said of the joint sail between two countries during a press conference after the meeting in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.
The joint sail between the two countries was conducted on September 4, resuming an activity put on hold during the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte who sought warmer ties with China.
This bilateral sail was also conducted relatively near the contested Spratly Islands, parts of which belonged to the country under the Kalayaan Island Group in the West Philippine Sea that China also claims under its sweeping 10 dash-line.
Aquilino said the joint sail between two countries is necessary “to ensure that we can maintain the freedom of the seas, freedom of airspace so that all the nations in the region can enjoy peace and prosperity.”
Brawner also said that the AFP is also planning to allow other countries to conduct a bilateral sail in the WPS.
“Definitely, that is in our plan,” Brawner said when asked about the planned joint sail with other countries apart from the US.
“Right now we are in the process of now working with the other countries who want to join the joint sail,” he added.