JOINT NAVAL EXERCISE. The third day of the joint naval exercise called Samasama ’23 between the Philippines and the United States involved training on multiple shipboard operations including communications check and maritime domain exercise prior to the conduct of a visit, board, search and seizure drill by a combined boarding force from Philippine Navy’s BRP Lolinato To-ong (PG902) and the U.S. Navy. The BRP Antonio Luna FF151 – PF and USS Dewey (DDG 105) performed Replenishment at Sea Approaches with supply ship. USNS Wally Schirra
The Philippines and Australia started joint air and sea patrols as they seek to deepen their defense cooperation to counter China’s assertiveness in the region.
The “maritime cooperative activity” came days after the United States held a similar exercise with the Philippines in the South China Sea, which Beijing claims almost entirely
President Marcos said Saturday the joint patrols were “a practical manifestation of the growing and deepening strategic and defense partnership between our countries.”
“We endeavor to enhance bilateral interoperability in maritime security and domain awareness,” Marcos said on the social media platform X.
In a joint statement, the Australian and Philippine defense chiefs said the three-day patrols showed their “shared commitment to exercising freedom of navigation and overflight consistent with international law.”
The Philippines will deploy two navy vessels and five surveillance aircraft to join Australia’s HMAS Toowoomba warship and a P-8A maritime surveillance aircraft.
The maritime patrols will be held inside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, Defense spokesman Arsenio Andolong said.
In September, Mr. Marcos and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese signed a strategic partnership that enabled the expansion of cooperation in several areas from defence and security to climate change and education.
The long-anticipated Philippine patrols with the United States and Australia follow a spike in tensions between Beijing and Manila over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
Beijing’s expansive claims over the waterway approach the coasts of other countries – more than a thousand kilometres from the nearest major Chinese landmass.
It has ignored an international tribunal ruling that its claims have no legal basis.
China deploys boats to patrol the sea and has built artificial islands that it has militarized to reinforce its claims.
Mr. Marcos earlier warned Sunday the Chinese military had “started to show interest” in building bases on reefs that were “closer and closer to the Philippine coastline.” With AFP