PH ‘trying everything’ to cool down WPS tension

PH ‘trying everything’ to cool down WPS tension

/ 05:50 AM April 09, 2024

TRAININGWITHALLIES The Philippine Navy’s BRP AntonioLuna leads three other participating ships during the firstMultilateral Maritime Cooperative Activity between the Philippines, the United States, Australia and Japan, in theWest Philippine Sea over the weekend. —ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES PHOTO

TRAININGWITHALLIES The Philippine Navy’s BRP Antonio Luna leads three other participating ships during the firstMultilateral Maritime Cooperative Activity between the Philippines, the United States, Australia and Japan, in theWest Philippine Sea over the weekend. ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — President Marcos on Monday said the Philippine government was “trying everything” to engage countries and cool down the tension in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) to avoid a repeat of incidents of China’s aggression.

“Anything that we can do, we are doing it to get the Chinese leadership to talk, that they would not escalate the situation because we can still talk so that we will no longer have incidents [such as] the ramming or firing of water cannon,” the President said on the sidelines of the ceremonial tapping of the Cebu-Negros-Panay 230-kilovolt backbone power project in Bacolod City.


READ: PH holds West Philippine Sea drills with 3 key allies


Played down

Mr. Marcos, calling them nothing out of the ordinary, played down the quadrilateral military exercises on Sunday between the Philippines and allies United States, Japan and Australia that China matched with its own “combat” exercises in the South China Sea.

“[These exercises are] par for the course. The cruises that we are doing, something [similar] has been [done before],” he pointed out.

“That’s the usual reaction from the (People’s Liberation Army). They would bring out their own ships. So, it’s almost normal already for us, unfortunately,” the President added.

He allayed some sector’s concerns that the quadrilateral exercises could further raise the tension in the West Philippine Sea as Manila’s line remains open to Beijing.

“We are trying everything. We still continue to talk [to China] at a ministerial level, at a subministerial level, at a people-to-people level,” he noted.

Mr. Marcos said he was optimistic that the latest military exercises would help improve the Philippines’ maritime capability.


“The interim reports that I am getting is that these exercises are indeed very useful in terms of the interoperability so that each navy knows how the other navy operates,” he said.

The President said he hoped that these joint patrols would deter any harassment of Filipino vessels sailing within the country’s exclusive economic zone.

READ: PCG: PH maritime drills don’t provoke China, ‘China has always been like that’

Cooperation among allies

In Congress, Sen. Francis Tolentino on Monday said he believed the multilateral maritime activity held on Sunday would become a “regular occurrence.”

“It is not just a one deal or one stand-alone military patrol exercise. There will be more patrol operations with Australia and Japan. Of course, the US has always been there,” he told reporters in a briefing.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said he was also in favor of multilateral programs or projects that would “assist the Philippines on freedom of navigation in the WPS, on the rule of law, and in the adherence to the [United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea] where all parties in the Asian region are party of, including our neighbor in the north.”

According to Tolentino, the joint naval patrols will “signal a strengthened alliance with like-minded countries and signify a commitment to mutual defense and security cooperation among allies.”

He added that it would also be a “strong deterrence” that the Philippines could not be easily bullied.

Apart from the ongoing maritime cooperation, Tolentino said he was looking forward to the involvement of the country’s allies, particularly the US Navy, in assisting in cloud-seeding operations in different parts of the country to help ease the impact of El Niño and help Filipino farmers.

Call for demilitarization

“Maybe our existing cooperation with them involving humanitarian missions is not only for [the usual] calamities. El Niño is also a calamity,” he said.

The opposition Bayan Muna party list, meanwhile, urged Mr. Marcos to take action to demilitarize the South China Sea in an effort to ease escalating tensions in the strategic waterway.

“The joint patrols and military exercises conducted [with] the US and Australia, who are not part of the South China Sea, which China countered with its own military exercises, could lead to further escalation of tension, which is devastating to the Filipino people,” Bayan Muna chair Neri Colmenares said in the statement.

Colmenares instead urged the President to work with Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia to file a joint UN resolution calling for the “complete demilitarization” of the South China Sea.

Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. confirmed on Monday that two Chinese Navy ships were spotted a few nautical miles away from where the joint exercises were conducted.

However, Brawner said the Chinese ships did not cause any trouble during the joint drills.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

He noted that the two Chinese ships were 11.11 kilometers (6 nautical miles) away from the participating ships in the joint drills, unlike their distance during the conduct of rotation and resupply missions “where they would be too close with our ships.” —WITH REPORTS FROM TINA G. SANTOS, RUSSEL LORETO AND DEMPSEY REYES INQ

TAGS: China, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, PLA, WPS, WPS tension

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.