PH, Japan hold naval games near disputed sea

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FOR the second time, the Philippine warship BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16) and Japanese warship JS Hatakaze (DDG-171) will engage in a passing exercise (Passex) and drills, this time off the coast of Palawan, near the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

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Lt. Cmdr. Marineth Domingo, chief, Navy Public Affairs Office, on Wednesday, said the bilateral naval exercises would be held on September 25 before the DDG-171 would head home to Japan.

Both ships participated in the just-concluded 18-day KAKADU 2014 in Australia., the largest international maritime exercises hosted biennially by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) to promote and enhance regional inter-operability and multilateral cooperation among the participating navies of 12 countries, including China.

But Domingo did not say where exactly in Palawan the Passex would be held for “security” purposes.

“So most probably it is outside of the West Philippine Sea but I’m not sure. That’s why we set off the Palawan area because we are not really sure and for security purposes,” she added.

Both the Philippines and Japan have territorial disputes with China.

Domingo said the maritime exercise has nothing to do with China, adding that it is only aimed at improving the navies’ capacity, capability and inter-operability in protecting the maritime region.

She explained that a passing exercise is composed of sea drills done between two navies to ensure synchronization of communication and cooperation among the participating navies in combined naval operations.

“Passex gives us an opportunity to not only practice what we might be called upon to do, but the chance to establish a professional relationship with our allies making us more capable forces working together at sea,” Domingo said.

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