The Philippines will hold joint military exercises with China during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean)-China military exercise to be held in Zhanjiang, China on October 22 to 29, the Defense department said Monday.
Department of Defense Public Affairs Chief Arsenio Andolong noted that the conduct of Asean-China exercises was agreed upon during the Asean Defense Ministers Meeting in Singapore last February.
“The Philippines is participating and as of today, it is quite possible that the highest [ranked] navy official who will be there will be flag officer in command is Admiral Robert Empedrad. [But] as of the moment, we are still not certain as to which vessel we’ll be sending to the exercise,”
“Most likely this is the first time because we never had an exercise with them [Chinese military]. China ang nag-propose nyan tapos pinag-usapan ng mga defense ministers [ng Asean]. But one requirement was that it will not be held in disputed areas, so kaya siguro ginawa sa Zhanjiang kasi maliwanag na teritoryo nila ‘yan e. From what I know, the focus would be HADR (humanitarian assistance and disaster relief). I don’t know kung sasamahan nila ng anti-piracy,” Andolong added.
Andolong then said that he expects the military to have a deepened understanding of the Chinese military in the aftermath of the exercise, including improving ways on how to deal with “unexpected encounters”.
China has refused to recognize the July 2016 ruling of the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration which junked China’s nine-dash line claim which encompasses the entire South China Sea, including the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Philippines which is 200 nautical miles from territorial waters.
Likewise, the said Hague ruling—which stemmed from a case filed by the Philippines vs. China due to Beijing’s repeated incursions in Manila’s EEZ which the Philippines calls West Philippine Sea—also declared that the Spratly Islands, as well as the Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal and Recto (Reed) Bank are all within the EEZ of the Philippines.
President Rodrigo Duterte, however, has decided to shelve this ruling and is pushing to for a joint exploration and development deal with China over West Philippine Sea resources even if the 1987 Constitution provides that the exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources should be under the full control and supervision of the Philippine government.
The 1987 Charter also allows the Philippine government to enter into a co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements, but only with private companies 60 percent owned by Filipino citizens. —NB, GMA News
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