Biazon urges PH to join anew US maritime exercises in West Philippine Sea
MANILA, Philippines — Muntinlupa City Rep. Ruffy Biazon said the Philippines should participate anew in the United States’ maritime drills in the West Philippine Sea to “make up for the imbalance of military power” between the Philippines and China.
Biazon, vice chair of the House national defense and security panel, said the Philippines was “obviously way behind” China in terms of military might in the West Philippine Sea.
“There seemed to be a cooling off of the relationship between the Philippines and the United States, but I think it’s time for us to engage our longtime allies and even possibly forge new ones,” he said in a statement on Friday.
Biazon added: “We have the international community sympathetic to our cause, and I think it’s the next step that we should be taking to make up for the imbalance of military power between China and the Philippines.”
While he is happy with the diplomatic actions taken by Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., Biazon said the Philippines should consider conducting more maritime patrols in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
This is while the country attempts to resolve the territorial dispute through peaceful means and in accordance with the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea.
“Beyond that, I think the country should pursue and proceed with maritime patrols in the area. As we have experienced recently, a Philippine Air Force (PAF) plane was conducting maritime patrol and it was even challenged by the Chinese, and the PAF plane asserted its right to conduct patrols. I think we should be continuing to do that,” Biazon said.
“I feel that we are stepping up right now to tell the world that we are concerned, but we have some sort of handicap militarily, that is why engaging in these alliances and concerned parties would be a boost,” he said.
The lawmaker also raised the possibility that China might try to influence Philippine decisions on the West Philippine Sea because of its donation of vaccines against COVID-19.
“I think we should just proceed treating these two issues as parallel, but that’s just my opinion. We engaged China in securing vaccines whether it’s by donation or procurement, and it is better if it’s by procurement, because it’s just a business transaction. But, of course, we should still maintain our position by asserting our rights over our EEZ. I am confident that there are other allies who would be willing to help us on both the West Philippine Sea and even the pandemic response,” Biazon said.
In March, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana demanded the immediate withdrawal of more than 200 Chinese maritime militia out of Julian Felipe Reef.
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