Philippines, 3 more countries set 'cooperative activity' in WPS

PH, US, Japan, Australia ‘cooperative activity’ set in WPS on April 7

By: - Reporter / @luisacabatoINQ
/ 01:59 PM April 06, 2024

PH, US, Japan, Australia 'cooperative activity' set in WPS on April 7

The West Philippine Sea. INQUIRER FILES

MANILA, Philippines —  The Philippines, Australia, Japan, and the United States will conduct a Maritime Cooperative Activity (MCA) within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone on Sunday, April 7.

In an April 5 joint statement released by the US Embassy in Manila, they explained that the MCA will be conducted “by naval/maritime and air force units in a manner that is consistent with international law as well as domestic laws and rules of respective nations, and with due regard to the safety of navigation and the rights and interests of other States.”

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The activity is also aimed at demonstrating “professional interactions” among naval, maritime, and air forces and to strengthen the harmony of their defense and armed forces “doctrines, tactics, techniques, and procedures,” they added.

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READ: PH, US, Japan OK more activities in West Philippine Sea

“We stand with all nations in safeguarding the international order based on the rule of law that is the foundation for a peaceful and stable Indo-Pacific region. Our four nations reaffirm the position regarding the 2016 South China Sea Arbitral Tribunal Award as a final and legally binding decision on the parties to the dispute,” they further said.

In a phone interview with reporters, Department of National Defense spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said the MCA in the West Philippine Sea will include communication exercise, division tactics or possible officer of the watch maneuver, and a photo exercise.

He also said that five ships will be deployed during the MCA, namely, BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz from the Philippines, USS mobile from the United States, HMAS Warramunga from Australia, and DD Akebono from Japan.

Australia Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Richard Marles said in the joint statement that his country is committed to working with partners to maintain the global rules-based order.

“We recognize that respect for national sovereignty and agreed rules and norms based on international law underpin the stability of our region,” he said.

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Japan Minister of Defense Minoru Kihara, meanwhile, said that guided by the vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific, his country recognizes the “vital importance of striving to realize a free and open international order based on the rule of law and securing regional peace and stability in cooperation with its ally, like-minded countries and others.”

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“Japan believes that the issue concerning the South China Sea is directly related to the peace and stability of the region and is a legitimate concern of the international community including Japan, Australia, the Philippines, and the United States, and thus Japan opposes any unilateral changes to the status quo by force, such attempts as well as any actions that increase tensions in the South China Sea,” he added.

Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. echoed the two officials’ stand, noting that the MCA is a “step in building our country’s capacity for individual and collective self-defense.”

For US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III, every country should be free to conduct lawful air and maritime operations.

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“Our operations together support peace and stability at the heart of our shared vision for a free and open region,” he said in the same joint statement.

For comprehensive coverage, in-depth analysis, and the latest updates on the West Philippine Sea issue, visit our special site here. Stay informed with articles, videos, and expert opinions.

TAGS: Maritime Cooperative Activity, West Philippine Sea

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