September 11, 2023
MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Francis Tolentino on Sunday reiterated the need for the Philippines to conduct joint maritime patrols with more allied countries in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) following China’s latest attempt to prevent Philippine vessels from undertaking a resupply mission to Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal.
“Since last year, I have been calling for us to have joint patrols with Australia, United States, and Japan,” Tolentino said in a radio interview.
“Conducting joint patrols will help [secure] these resupply missions and show the solidarity of the international community to really abide by the law of the sea,” he said.
Tolentino, the vice chair of the Senate foreign relations committee, said these coordinated activities with other nations would strengthen the country’s landmark 2016 arbitral court victory.
Call for international help
Such cooperation, he added, was also consistent with President Marcos’ call for the international community to help the country in restoring order in the disputed areas in the South China Sea.
The senator said it was unfortunate that the latest incident of China’s harassment of Philippine ships happened just hours after China participated in the meeting of leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Jakarta last week.
According to Tolentino, the incident only proved that China’s hostile actions will continue despite the country’s efforts to resolve the issue through diplomacy and established international law.