PH eyes possible joint maritime patrols with US in West Philippine Sea

PH-US joint patrols West Philippine Sea

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG 65), forward-deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations, conducts underway operations in the South China Sea, in this handout picture released on July 13, 2022. U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines will be exploring the possibility of conducting joint maritime patrols with the United States in the West Philippine Sea as this falls under the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) of the two countries.

“In our view, joint patrols between the Philippines and the [U.S.] can take place. They are under the ambit of the MDT, and also within the context of the Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board. So, I think this is an issue that we’ll continue to explore bilaterally,” said Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo during a virtual joint press conference with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday.

Blinken, for his part, reaffirmed their “ironclad commitment” to the MDT, noting that this will enjoin the U.S. should there be an armed attack against the Philippines in the contested waters.

READ: Blinken, Bongbong Marcos reaffirm defense treaty; President says it’s ‘in constant evolution’

He added the U.S. is also working with Filipino fisherfolk and scientific researchers towards preserving and protecting the Philippines’ maritime resources, which according to him, are “under threat from illegal fishing and environmental destruction by outside actors.”

China has repeatedly dismissed the historic ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration which favored the Philippines, and rejected its nine-dash line claim over the disputed waters.

The U.S., along with other international allies, recently renewed their call for China to follow international law and stop its aggressive behavior in the West Philippine Sea.