Philippines, US, France start joint patrols in West PH Sea

Philippines, US, France start joint patrols in West PH Sea

/ 03:21 PM April 25, 2024

Philippines, US, France start joint patrols in West PH Sea

FS Vendemiaire, USS Harpers Ferry, and BRP Ramon Alcaraz conducts “division tactics” during the multilateral aritime exercise which kicked Thursday. Photo taken from BRP Davao Del Sur. PHOTO FROM THE ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES

MANILA, Philippines—The navies of the Philippines, United States, and France officially began Thursday their multilateral maritime exercise in the West Philippine Sea, which saw an increase in the presence of Chinese vessels ahead of the trilateral patrols.

Captain Ariel Coloma, spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Western Command, said that BRP Ramon Alcaraz and BRP Davao del Sur left Puerto Princesa, Palawan, at about 9:00 a.m., marking the start of the drills.


French frigate Vendémiaire and the USS Harpers Ferry shortly followed the Navy warships, according to Coloma.


READ: Philippine, US, French navies to sail in West PH Sea for Balikatan

“We share the same security challenges with our partner nations so it’s really very timely that we train with them,” Coloma told reporters in a phone interview.

The activity, which is part of the Balikatan war games, will see the navies of Manila, Washington, and Paris conduct various drills, including gunnery exercises and maritime search and rescue.

“This multilateral maritime exercise would really help us build our defense capabilities,” Coloma also said.

The naval activities in the western section of the exclusive economic zone will last until April 29.


READ: China expected to ‘behave well’ during WPS trilateral drills – PH Navy

This comes as a substantial increase in the number of Chinese vessels was monitored in the West Philippine Sea before the official start of the 39th iteration of Balikatan exercises on April 22.

A total of 124 Chinese vessels and warships were monitored inside the country’s western section of the exclusive economic zone on April 16 to 22, according to Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad, Navy spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea. Trinidad noted that the week before that, or from April 9 to 15, only 79 of them were spotted.

But despite this, China is not expected to interfere with the drills, according to Trinidad.

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“Because it is an activity between the US and the Philippines. Historically the illegal, unprovoked, uncalled for actions of China will only be to [the] Philippines,” he said in a press conference on Tuesday.

Beijing asserts sovereignty in the entire South China Sea, including most of the West Philippine Sea, but its claims have been effectively invalidated by the July 2016 arbitral tribunal ruling that stemmed from a case filed by Manila in 2013.

TAGS: Balikatan, France, Philippines, US, West Philippine Sea

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