The military will keep a close watch on a fleet of Chinese warships that are on training maneuvers in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Saturday the Philippines will coordinate with its allies in monitoring of the movement of the warships that include China’s only aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.
Gazmin said that they see no extra security concern while the Chinese fleet, consisting of the refurbished aircraft carrier, two destroyers and two frigates, conducts 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.
He said the Philippines’ two newly acquired naval vessels, the Gregorio del Pilar and Ramon Alcaraz, are helping in relief efforts in typhoon-ravaged Eastern Visayas and could not be deployed to monitor the Chinese fleet
“They are not vessel that can be used for patrol… we still also have other seacraft that we also use for patrolling,” Gazmin said.
The said that once the Chinese ships enter Philippine waters, they must comply with rules and regulations recognized by the international community.
If they don’t, the Philippines will file a protest,” Gazmin said, ruling out military action.
The Philippines, China and also Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam claim parts of the oil- and gas-rich Spratly Islands on the southern tip of west Philippine Sea. ANTHONY VARGAS