MANILA, Philippines – This year’s joint naval exercises between the Philippines and the United States will push through on Monday amid China’s declaration that it will resolutely oppose any military provocation in its territorial waters.
The Philippine Navy said yesterday that the exercise is aimed at enhancing the skills of the naval forces of the two allied states and is not directed towards anybody.
Col. Omar Tonsay, Navy spokesman, said this year’s Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) will be held from July 2 to 10 in Mindanao Sea with a staging point in Sarangani Bay in General Santos City, far from the hotly contested West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) that China claims is an integral part of its maritime domain.
Tonsay said that the naval exercise will also fine- tune interoperability between the two forces.
“This is an annual naval exercises and is not geared towards anybody but simply to enhance both our sailors and marine soldiers’ skills to operate jointly and to effectively deal with maritime concerns,” Tonsay said.
Aside from the Philippine and US sailors and marines, the Philippine and US Coast Guards are also participating in the joint naval exercises.
This year’s joint naval war game has been reported as a US-sponsored multi-national military exercises dubbed as “Rim of the Pacific” naval exercises, the largest-ever involving 22 nations, including the US, India, Russia, Australia and the Philippines, but without China.
On Thursday, China, through its defense spokesman Geng Yansheng, has declared that it would resolutely oppose any military provocation in its territorial waters, a remark reports said appeared to be directed towards the US, Vietnam and the Philippines.
“We will oppose any military provocation,” Geng declared in a report.
Geng’s remarks came as the United States launched the Rim of the Pacific naval exercises in Hawaii.
Wire reports also said Geng downplayed multi-national military exercises but voiced concern over Washington’s recent announcement that it would deploy more naval forces in the Pacific.
The Philippines, meanwhile, yesterday urged China to refrain from making comments that would escalate the situation in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the Philippines is committed to defusing tension in the area. – With Pia Lee-Brago