THE Philippine military is closely monitoring a flotilla of Chinese warships that includes an aircraft carrier sent by China for training maneuvers in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the military is also coordinating with the country’s allies in monitoring the movement of the Chinese warships while in training near the disputed seas.
The defense secretary said that they see no extra security concern while the Chinese flotilla, consisting of a Russian made aircraft carrier, two destroyers and two frigates, conduct its training exercise near the disputed areas.
“For as long as it does not get into territorial waters we will not have any problem and there’s this safe passage at high seas in the international waters, but once you enter territorial waters, you have to identify yourself,” Gazmin said.
The defense chief said that they also do not see any problem in monitoring the Chinese flotilla even as the two newest acquired warships from the US is busy in relief efforts in typhoon ravaged Eastern Visayas.
“They are not the vessels used for patrol… we still also have other seacraft that we also use for patrol,” Gazmin said.
The Philippines recently acquired warships, the BRP’s Gregorio del Pilar and Ramon Alcaraz that were sent for relief to the Eastern and Central Visayas regions ravaged by super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) early last month.
The defense secretary added that once the Chinese flotilla enters Philippine territorial waters, they expect them to comply with existing rules and regulations recognized by the international community.
“As a member of the civilized community they should… But if China doesn’t, then that will be subjected to another process like the filing of protest,” Gazmin said.
The Philippines, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam are claiming, partially or wholly, the oil and gas- rich region of Spratly Islands lying at the southern tip of South China Sea.