US, Philippines agree to restart joint patrols in East Sea

The Pentagon announced that the United States and the Philippines have agreed to restart joint patrols in the South China Sea after a multi-year hiatus.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Philippine counterpart Carlito Galvez Jr. “agreed to restart joint maritime patrols in the South China Sea to help address security challenges,” the Pentagon said in a February 2 statement.

A senior Philippine official said the agreement on joint patrols with the US in the South China Sea “was made at the last minute” during discussions between the two countries’ defense ministers.

The official said the United States and the Philippines will continue to discuss details regarding joint patrols such as the location, frequency, and capabilities of the US Coast Guard and Philippine Coast Guard or navies. participate in activities.

USCGC Munro and Philippine coast guard ship BRP Gabriela Silang sail in the South China Sea in August 2021.  Photo: USCG)

The Pentagon announced on February 2 that Washington and Manila had agreed to add four new facilities in strategic locations of the Philippines to the list of bases that the US military is allowed to use in the Southeast Asian country. The locations of these four bases have not been announced.

The agreements come as the United States and the Philippines seek to repair broken ties under former president Rodrigo Duterte. Western experts say that China’s expansion of activities in the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea “creates a new impetus for the US and the Philippines to strengthen their partnership”.

The United States deployed a large-scale garrison in the Philippines after World War II, including two facilities in the country that were once Washington’s largest overseas bases. However, Philippine authorities in 1991 terminated the agreement and demanded the return of all military bases by the US.

The two countries in 2014 ratified the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), under which US troops have access to four air bases and one army base in the Philippines in the form of rotating garrison forces. .

Nguyen Tien (Theo AFP)

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