AFP chief: Situation in South China Sea still volatile

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Armed Forces of the Philippines chief General Gilbert Gapay said Tuesday that the disputed South China Sea’s general situation remained “volatile and uncertain.”

Gapay explained during an online forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) that China and the United States continue to take aggressive actions in protecting the disputed territory.

“Situation in the South China Sea remains volatile and uncertain because of certain actions of certain actors in the area, particularly China and the United States,” Gapay said.

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“We have seen aggressive actions on the part of China, from reclaiming the area and deploying some warships there and their Coast Guard is very visible in the area. Their maritime militias are there. They’re practically swarming most of the areas in the West Philippine Sea,” he added.

“Here comes the United States, of course, protecting their interests… in maintaining that sea lanes of trade and communications open and free and safe and secure, advocating freedom of navigation in the area,” Gapay said.

chief: Situation in South China Sea still volatile

The AFP chief said Beijing’s unilateral exercises have also resulted in a “more tensed” situation in the South China Sea. Gapay, however, remained firm that all issues in the disputed territory should be addressed peacefully and diplomatically.

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“It has even fired recently a missile, which we have lodged a diplomatic protest on and here comes United States displaying a show of force in the area so it’s very tensed and right now the effort really is multilateral action and talking about how to peacefully resolved these issues,” Gapay said.

Opposite to what Gapay is saying, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Monday the situation in the West Philippine Sea ( official designation by the Philippine government of eastern parts of the South China Sea) is “stable and manageable.”

“The external threat is being managed by our foreign affairs, the situation in the West Philippine Sea is stable at the moment and manageable. As far as we are concerned, we can focus more [of] our attention on the internal threats which is to contain the communist insurgency and the terrorists,” Lorenzana had said.

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