The Pentagon conducting more regular patrols in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) is “purely” its decision, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Sunday.
The Wall Street Journal had reported that the United States military is eyeing to deploy two to three “freedom of navigation” patrols a month in waters disputed by China and the Philippines, among others.
Such patrols would see US warships and military aircraft in contested areas in the South China Sea.
Lorenzana said the Philippines has not been consulted about the Pentagon plan.
During Barack Obama’s presidency, the US Navy conducted patrols in the South China Sea, where China has been building artificial islands, runways, ports and other facilities.
Three other Southeast Asian countries–Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam–and Taiwan also claims areas in the South China Sea.
In his second State of the Nation Address in July, President Rodrigo Duterte said the Philippines will conduct joint exploration with China in the contested waters, adding that the country cannot wage a war with the Asian giant.
In 2016, a UN arbitral court ruled that China has no legal basis in claiming the entire South China Sea, a decision that Beijing has dismissed.