MANILA—The Philippines is eyeing for a “collaborative presence” when it announced that it is interested in having a joint-patrol agreement with the US in contested portions of the South China Sea.
This was stressed by Defense spokesperson Dr. Peter Paul Galvez in a message to the PNA.
“Context is that there is a need for more collaborative presence in the South China Sea. Thus, in addition to freedom of navigation operations of the US, we are suggesting that we also patrol the area together,” he added.
The country’s interest for a joint-patrol agreement was discussed during the Philippine-US 2+2 ministerial meeting held in Washington D.C. last Jan. 12.
“The 2+2 meeting extensively discussed the South China Sea issue, with the US side reiterating the US ironclad commitment to the defense of the Philippines while the Philippines batting for joint patrols. The US also conveyed that it remains committed to the AFP’s modernization program,” Galvez added.
The Philippine Navy, which is now undergoing modernization, is sorely lacking in ships capable of long-range patrols.
In the said meeting, the US emphasized that it will not allow China to control the South China Sea and will act to ensure that freedom of navigation is respected.
It also stressed that they will continue to fly and sail whenever and wherever international law allows.
The US also committed to maintain its presence in the South China Sea to include naval, sub-sea, air and special forces.
In addition, the US urged the Philippines to stay closely coordinated with respect to the developments in the South China Sea.
Noting China’s claim that it will not militarize the area, the US suggested the need for parties in the South China Sea to have a common and shared understanding of the term “militarization” to avoid growing tensions.
A common sense among the other parties would put pressure on China.