By Priam Nepomuceno

MARITIME PATROL. Philippine Navy ships BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PS-15), BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16) and BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602) in line formation during the second iteration of the AFP-USINDOPACOM maritime cooperative activity in West Philippine Sea on Jan. 3, 2024. The two-day bilateral event which ran until Jan. 4 consists of passing exercises, communication checks, cross-deck exercises, joint patrols, officer of the watch (OW) maneuvers, and fixed-wing flight operations. (Photo courtesy of AFP Western Command)

MANILA – More allies are expected to join the Philippines in its patrol activities in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), an official of the National Security Council (NSC) said Monday.

“Meron din joint patrols na mangyayari in the future kasama yung ibang bansa gaya ng Japan, Australia na nagpapakita rin ng suporta sa ating bansa (There will be joint patrols in the future with countries like Japan, Australia which showed support to our country),” National Security Council (NSC) Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya said in a radio interview.

This came after the United States deployed some of its vessels, including aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-71), during the second “maritime cooperative activity” with the Philippines in the WPS last Jan. 3 to 4.

During the activity, the Armed Forces of the Philippines deployed Philippine Navy vessels BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PS-15), BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16) and BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602).

Aside from the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-71), the US Indo-Pacific Command also deployed a cruiser, two destroyers and multiple combat aircraft.

“This sends a very strong signal to China na marami tayong kakampi (we have many allies),” he added.

Malaya, meanwhile, hoped that Manila’s future resupply missions in the WPS will proceed smoothly.

“We will continue to protect and defend our sovereignty. Walang masyadong harassment sa ibang supply missions, ang critical for us is yung BRP Sierra Madre, and yung Ayungin (There are no major harassments made in other supply missions, but the critical for us is the BRP Sierra Madre and the Ayungin Shoal),” he added.

Asked why China is targeting resupply missions to the BRP Sierra Madre in the Ayungin Shoal, Malaya said this area is vital to its interests.

“Una malapit sa mischief reef, pangalawa sa tingin naming good candidate for a transformation to an artificial island. Pag nakuha nila, gagawan ng military base kasi malawak at madaling ireclaim, magaling naman sila sa reclamation. Pangatlo, sa tingin ko nangigigil sila dyan kasi malapit sa Recto Bank kung nasaan yung sinasabing napakaraming natural gas at mineral deposit or oil na magagamit ng China kung sakaling sila ang makakuha sa lugar na iyan (First, it’s near the Mischief Reef. Second, we think it is also a good candidate for a transformation to an artificial island. If they get that, they would build a military base on it because it is wide and is easy to reclaim, after all they are good at reclamation. Third, they are crazy over it because it is near the Recto Bank where there are so many natural gas and mineral deposits or oil that China can use once they take control of it),” he added. (PNA)