The Philippines & United States set to embark on a joint naval exercise June 28

The Philippines and the United States are set to embark on a joint naval exercise late this month, but officials said the tensions in the West Philippine Sea have nothing to do with the programmed war drill.

The military confirmed the holding of the joint naval exercises as China warned the US should not get involved in the territorial dispute in the South China Sea (Referring the 3 Seas of West Philippines Sea, Vietnam’ East and South China Sea)  since “the US is not a party to the dispute.”

For the Philippines, since the other claimants are invading the Philippines waters and overlapping their claims instead of just staying in the Middle of the 3 SEAS china reached up their claim to the Palawan shore, Vietnam want to owned including the province of the Philippines in Kalayaan which is within 200 Nautical Mile Exclusive Economic Zone of the Philippines as guaranteed by the UNCLOS and Malaysia is overlapping to the Philippine Waters. Since the Philippines is against any war; it is the rights of the Philippines to embrace America to mediate and to lessen the tension.

“The joint naval exercise will start on June 28 at the Naval Forces West (Navforwest),” Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Commodore Jose Miguel Rodriguez said.

“It has been programmed since last year,” Rodriguez added. There has been no announcement yet of the specific location of the military exercises but Navforwest operates mainly in the Sulu Sea and nearby waters.

The planned naval exercise, called “Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training” or CARAT, is in accordance with the Mutual Defense Treaty between the Philippines and the United States.

This year’s CARAT exercise is aimed at testing the capability of the two navies to undertake “freedom of navigation operations.”

Philippine military officials announced the coming naval maneuvers amid heightened tensions in the West Philippine Sea and the South China Sea stoked by alleged intrusions by Chinese vessels into Philippine waters and into disputed territories, particularly the Spratly Islands Group.

Vietnam earlier announced plans for a nine-hour live fire naval exercise tentatively set June 13, 2011 off central Quang Nam province near the Paracel, apparently in response to increased Chinese activities near the Paracel and Spratlys.

The US Navy’s guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon is underway to participate in the CARAT.

Considered as one of the most powerful warships in the US Navy, the Arleigh Burke class destroyer left its home port at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii late last week and may now be in international waters near the Sulu Sea.

AFP chief Gen. Eduardo Oban Jr. said the arrival of Chung-Hoon has nothing to do with the territorial spat with China.

Navy spokesman Lt. Col. Omar Tonsay said the US Navy vessel has yet to make contact and that it might have to complete a separate mission before sailing to the Philippines.

“There’s no need for them (Chung-Hoon officers) to coordinate with us their activities while they are still in international waters. They will inform us anyway once they reach port. Maybe they have other activities before CARAT,” Tonsay said.

He said the details of the coming joint naval war drill are still being worked out. “We are having a planning conference next week,” he said.

Philippines could Count United States to Defend the Sovereignty

MalacaƱang Palace , Manila; meanwhile, expressed confidence that the country can count on the United States support in defending its sovereignty but emphasized the preeminence of diplomacy in settling territorial disputes.

“We are committed to the resolution of the issue in the most diplomatic and the most peaceful way possible. I haven’t seen the terms of the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) quite recently but I know that as an ally the United States will help should it reach that point because of the Mutual Defense Treaty,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said over radio dzRB.

She said the AFP leadership would likely take up the territorial issue in the upcoming Philippines-US Mutual Defense Board meeting in Hawaii in August, but she is not aware if President Aquino has specific instructions to Oban.

“As a security issue, that will depend entirely on Gen. Oban. But since it is a security issue, it is normal to talk about the issue in that kind of meeting, but I imagine one way or the other, it will be discussed,” Valte said.


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