AFP chief: Gov’t plans to deploy naval reservists to counter Chinese maritime militia in WPS
PALAWAN, Philippines — The government is planning to deploy naval reservists in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) to counter the suspected presence of Chinese maritime militia in the area, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Romeo Brawner Jr. said on Thursday.
“Yes it’s part of our plans,” Brawner said in a press conference in Western Command (Wescom) headquarters here in Puerto Princesa City, when asked if the government plans to counter Chinese maritime militia in the area.
“When we say reserve force, it’s not just land-based forces, so we are also trying to develop our reservists who will be able to operate in the sea,” he added.
Brawner said this plan is now in initial stages, but more funds are needed to purchase vessels that would put the plan to fruition.
“We have established these units but we are going to wait for the platforms or the vessels that they will use,” he said.
“It depends on the funds, but definitely, we are pursuing that direction,” he added, partly in Filipino.
Brawner made the statement in the wake of revelation of AFP Wescom chief Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos that “more than 400” foreign fishing vessels are within the country’s exclusive economic zone in the WPS, with around 85 percent of them are Chinese vessels.
The presence of the suspected Chinese maritime militias are in line with China’s assertion that it owns almost all of the areas in the South China Sea, including the WPS through its nine-dash line.
But the Philippines challenged this before the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which later invalidated Beijing’s sweeping claim.