It is said that the Philippines avoids tensions in Beijing first so it does not participate in the naval drills of various towns in the South China Sea.
That is what Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana shared, Thursday, in the ANC interview when it comes to drills with America, etc. as calls to defend the West Philippine Sea intensify.
“The main reason why we did not participate in the exercises in the South China Sea with the US and all the allies is because we didn’t have equipment to match what they are doing there,” said Lorenzana.
“Firstly, it’s not to antagonize China because China is watching us here and a lot of things could be done to us by the Chinese government if they are antagonized.”
He said the Philippines has frigates but it is not armed. Even the country’s ships are not equipped for this.
This is happening as the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) condemns China’s new coast guard law, something that gives a “go signal” to their forces to fire foreign vessels in their “territorial waters.”
The West Philippine Sea, an entry point into the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Philippines, is within the South China Sea and still has China’s presence to this day even though it was awarded to Manila in an arbitral ruling last 2016.
PH skips military exercises with US in South China Sea
Only yesterday, a study by the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute revealed that Filipinos have the biggest fear when it comes to Chinese intervention in EEZs and continental shelves in the ASEAN region.
Despite this, few fear the United States touring the same area.
“Only 12.5% of the respondents register their worry over the US’ increased military presence in the area. This concern is more pronounced in Laos (37.5%), Cambodia (30.8%) and Brunei (24.2%) while Singapore (6.3%), Vietnam (4.6%) and the Philippines (4.5%) have little qualms about it,” the ISEAS study said.
Lorenzana said that the Philippine Navy and the United States participate in “passage exercises” every year but their action is limited to the country’s territorial waters.
“They do this every year. We just avoid going with them in the disputed islands, in the disputed area. But we can do exercises with them within the territorial waters of the Philippines, specifically the Sulu Seas. ‘Wag na muna dun sa disputed area kasi it rises the tension on both sides,” the Defense chief said.