Philippines, Japan hold unprecedented naval drills

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SHOW THE FLAG Resident living in and soldiers deployed in Pagasa Island in the Kalayaan Island Group, better known as the Spratlys, hold a flag raising ceremony during the visit of military chief-of-staff General Gregorio Catapang Jr. on Monday.  AFP PHOTO

SHOW THE FLAG
Resident living in and soldiers deployed in Pagasa Island in the Kalayaan Island Group, better known as the Spratlys, hold a flag raising ceremony during the visit of military chief-of-staff General Gregorio Catapang Jr. on Monday.
AFP PHOTO

Two Japanese destroyers and one of the Philippine Navy’s newest warships began historic naval exercises in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) on Tuesday, showcasing a deepening alliance aimed at countering a rising China.

The day-long war games, the first bilateral naval exercises between the former World War II enemies, took place less than 300 kilometers from Bajo de Masinloc, a Philippine-claimed shoal better known as Scarborough Shoal but is now under Chinese control.

Philippine authorities insisted that the exercises were merely focused on building military capabilities but security analysts said they were clearly a signal to China over bitter maritime territorial disputes.

“First, they demonstrate that China’s Pacific neighbors are beginning to balance against China,” professor Michael Tkacik, a foreign policy expert at the Texas-based Stephen F. Austin State University, told Agence France-Presse.


“Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam and assorted other states are threatened by China’s behavior, even as far away as India. Thus, the Philippines and Japan are jointly making an important statement about how seriously they view China’s actions,” Tkacik said.

China caused deep concern regionally in recent years as it has become more aggressive in staking its claims to the South China Sea and Japanese-claimed islands in the East China Sea.

It insists that it has sovereign rights to nearly all of the South China Sea.

The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam, however, have competing claims to parts of the sea, which is vital to the global shipping industry and is believed to contain huge deposits of fossil fuels.

Although the Philippine Navy declined to say exactly where Tuesday’s exercises would take place, it said the vessels would sail into the West Philippine Sea from the former US Subic Bay naval base in Zambales province.

That base is about 270 kilometers southeast of Bajo de Masinloc Shoal.

A Philippine Navy spokesman said the exercises were the first bilateral war games between the two nations.

He added that one of the main drills would see an AW 109 helicopter from the BRP Ramon Alcaraz, a frigate acquired from the United States in 2012, flying to one of the Japanese destroyers when the three vessels meet at sea.

“It would be naive for anyone to think this is just an ordinary joint exercise in the light of some assertive actions by China in the South China Sea,” Wilfrido Villacorta, an international relations lecturer at the Manila-based De La Salle University, also told Agence France-Presse.

AFP

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4 Comments

  1. We are joining japan military drill , japan who invaded and subjugAted this
    Country and China during world war ll . All these while we are being led by
    A president whose great grand father collaborated with the japanese during WWll ,what an irony .

  2. The presence of Japan and the United States in the Philippines help slowdown China’s activity in the West Philippine Sea. For there should be more naval or military exercises in our country especially near the disputed areas. We don’t have the military hardware and resources to compete with China, our allies could help us at least in slowing down China’s activities.

    • Roldan Guerrero on

      You mean to say the Philippines will always be dependent on foreign aalies?

  3. Mariano Patalinjug on

    Yonkers, New York
    12 May 2015

    These joint naval exercises between Japanese and Philippines warships in the Western Philippine Sea is good news for people of both countries because, for the first time, Japan and the Philippines are making it clear to China that they are ready to counter China’s obvious illegal hegemonic designs in the East China Sea and the South China Sea where China is grabbing islands which Japan and the Philippines claim legally as parts of their territories under International Law [UNCLOS].

    Soon, hopefully, the United States will join these naval exercises making it a THREESOME. Recall that it was the US Commander of the Pacific Fleet–or was it the 7th Fleet?–who suggested JOINT NAVAL EXERCISES between the US and Japan and other countries who are engaged in territorial disputes with China.

    MARIANO PATALINJUG
    Lapulapu1927@yahoo.com