“The Philippines might be a small nation, but our country has a coast guard with a big heart that is willing to serve the Filipino people and an overwhelming loyalty and bravery to protect the republic.”
This was the bold statement that Philippine Coast Guard Commander Julio Colarina made on the cutting-off maneuver instigated by a China Coast Guard ship against one of our PCG vessels just a day after President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. hosted Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang aimed to defuse ongoing tensions.
Well, so much for that. This is the umpteenth time that Beijing has committed these bullying tactics and is increasing in frequency with more threatening language.
The PCG vessels BRP Malapascua and BRP Malabrigo was on patrol in the South China Sea carrying journalists from several media organizations as they were approaching the Second Thomas Shoal, where Philippine Marines are stationed.
CCG vessel 5201 reportedly made dangerous maneuvers that would have resulted in collision hadn’t it been for the quick reaction of the PCG crew.
Malapascua commanding officer Rodel Hernandez described the encounter as a “David and Goliath” incident against a CCG ship that was more than twice its size.
On Saturday, the PCG reported more than 100 Chinese maritime militia (CMM) vessels, a People’s Liberation Army Navy corvette, and two CCG vessels again doing their swarming tactics at Whitsun Reef which is well inside the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
The PCG told to the Chinese intruders to leave but was again ignored.
Senators have expressed their outrage and called for broadening alliances with like-minded countries in light of these increasing incidents of blatant disrespect to Philippine sovereignty and international law.
As our PCG is now implementing a firm and active stance to protect our sovereign rights, it looks like these close encounters with the CCG and Chinese Maritime Militia are going to be a more daily occurrence and therefore emphasizes the urgency to modernize our defense capabilities that the government must accelerate both in military hardware, upgraded proficiencies, and deeper alliances with like-minded states.
President Marcos Jr. has consistently maintained his administration will maintain a strategic balancing act in pursuing an independent foreign policy that focuses on cooperation with like-minded friends while being guided by Filipino people’s interests.
Unfortunately, we are not getting any cooperative reciprocity to de-escalate but instead we are getting more intimidation and threats in our maritime territories.
This is what we get for former President Duterte’s pivot to China which allowed six years of incursions and unprecedented Chinese militarization in the WPS and South China Sea wanton destruction of marine resources which will have long term effects to the region’s food security.
Also participating as observers were Australia with approximately 100 personnel and Japan.
These are three among many like-minded states that are now gravitating into an Indo-Pacific alliance to uphold the rule of law in these international waters which are critical maritime routes that must be kept open.
Any disruption will create a crisis to the global economy that is already struggling with the effects of the Ukraine war.
It’s really about time the Philippines does its own pushing back against Chinese bullying.
In strong show of force, the recent Balikatan exercises was our largest joint war games with our only military ally, the United States.
Approximately 12,200 US and 5,400 Philippine troops took part in over two weeks of maneuvers focused on maritime defense, coastal defense, and maritime domain awareness.
This was also the first time that a combined joint littoral-live fire drill was conducted wherein some 1,400 marines, soldiers, sailors, airmen, and PCG together with US troops simulated the sinking of an “enemy” vessel off the coast of San Antonio, Zambales.
Early last month, the President named four additional sites expanding access to US military troops under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.
This increases the total to nine EDCA sites. US$82 million has been allocated by the US for upgrading projects in various EDCA sites.
Today is the start of the bilateral meeting between US President Joe Biden and our President.
According to the White House statement, the two leaders will “review opportunities to deepen economic cooperation and promote inclusive prosperity, expand our nations’ special people-to-people ties, invest in the clean energy transition and the fight against climate change, and ensure respect for human rights.
“The two leaders will also discuss regional matters and coordinate on efforts to uphold international law and promote a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
It is expected that President Biden will reaffirm US commitment to the defense of the Philippines.
It is also expected that President Marcos Jr. will share his plans to actively participate in the promotion of the rules-based international order guided by his commitment to advance Philippine national interest.