The president of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., announced this Tuesday the launch of joint maritime and air patrols by his country with the US Army in the South China Sea, at the height of tensions in these waters that Manila and Beijing are competing.
”Joint maritime and air patrols begin today, a collaborative effort between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the US Indo-Pacific Command in the West Philippine Sea (as Manila calls the waters of the South China Sea near the Philippine coast)stated Marcos Jr. on his X account (formerly Twitter).
The announcement comes amid further closer military relations between the Philippines and the US amid rising tensions between Manila and Beijing over ongoing incidents between Chinese and Filipino ships around several atolls and islets, which both claim as their own in the waters of the South China Sea.
”This important initiative is a testament to our commitment to strengthening the interoperability of our military forces in carrying out maritime and air patrols,” added the Philippine president.
Marcos Jr. added that The joint patrols are part of “a series of events agreed upon” by both nations to “create a safer and more stable environment for our people.”.
The joint maritime and air patrols are expected to extend until November 23 and take place in front of the island of Mavulis, the northernmost in the Philippines and only about 100 kilometers from Taiwan, as explained this Tuesday by Colonel of the Philippine Armed Forces, Eugene Henry Cabusao, in statements to local media.
In February of this year, the Philippines granted the US access to four new military bases in the archipelago – bringing the total to nine -, one of them in the northernmost part of the archipelago, about 400 kilometers from Taiwan, while another is on the island of Balabac, close to the islands that Beijing and Manila dispute in the South China Sea.
China and the Philippines maintain a conflict over the sovereignty of several islands and atolls in the South China Sea, which Beijing claims almost in its entirety, although the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2016 ruled in favor of Manila in an award.
China on the prowl
China maintains its intimidating maneuvers in the southern sea against boats philippinesas a sign of claim for control of the area.
This Friday, the most recent crossing of ships from both flags on the high seas took place, with “unprovoked acts of coercion and dangerous maneuvers,” which lasted four hours and set off the alarms of all the patrols there.
According to journalists embarked on ships that were transiting the waters to witness these maneuvers, Dozens of Chinese coast guard and escort ships pursued the Filipinos, just at a time when they were trying to deliver supplies to the marines aboard the BRP Sierra Madre. This is a warship – slightly listed – donated by the United States that, although it is several years old, is still active and offers another barrier of control in these waters.
Given the persistence of Beijing’s blockades and coercive maneuvers, a US Navy surveillance plane intervened and flew over the area in circles, maintaining close surveillance although this did not prevent one of the Chinese coast guard from firing a hydrant cannon at a boat. Filipino.
(with information from EFE and AP)