�AFP not closed to joint exercises with China, Vietnam�
The 185 new personnel of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division are to perform anti-COVID-19 frontline missions.

Philstar.com / John Unson

MANILA, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines is not closing its doors on the conduct of joint military exercises with China and Vietnam, two countries with overlapping territorial claims on areas in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) and South China Sea, according to AFP chief of staff Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr.

“Again, we are not closing our possibilities, our prospect according to our President is that we are friends to all, enemies to none,” Brawner said in an interview on radio station dzBB yesterday.

Brawner said that while the AFP is exploring all possibilities to boost the country’s patrolling activities in WPS, there are no arrangements or talks for the conduct of joint patrols with the United States.

“As of present, we are conducting such ourselves, unilateral patrols of the area. But we are exploring all possibilities because we very well know that when it comes to our own national defense, we really cannot do it by ourselves. We really have to depend on our allies, our partners,” Brawner said.

Meanwhile, senators are expected to decide today on the proposed resolution urging the Marcos administration to seek support from the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in protecting Philippine sovereignty in WPS.

Sen. Francis Tolentino expressed support for Sen. Risa Hontiveros’ resolution seeking support from the UNGA in protecting Philippine sovereignty in the WPS.

“Let’s show as the Senate, that their (China’s) interference is too much, too close to the Philippines,” he pointed out.

Tolentino also pointed out that instead of China’s offer to have a joint military patrol, a joint disaster team is more doable.

“To me, what I see as more possible is a joint disaster team, HADR, or Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response,” he said.

Tolentino said such setup is provided in the United Nations resolutions 46-182, and 58-114 that require principles of humanity, impartiality and independence.

“For example, Typhoon Egay is going to Fujian, China, where it will affect them, if we will let them help us in relief operations, then they should let us also enter China to help Fujian,” he noted. — Cecille Suerte Felipe