Palace Hopes U.S. Will Defend Phl In Sea Row

(PHILIPPINE STAR 10 FEB 14) … Delon Porcalla

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang hopes the U.S. will come to the defense of the Philippines when China becomes more aggressive in claiming the entire West Philippine Sea.

In a statement, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma said the government expects to get the same assurance that the U.S. had given Japan when faced with a similar conflict with China.

“We continue to believe that when the need comes, the U.S. will stand by its commitments to our country based on existing agreements between the U.S. and the Philippines,” he said in Filipino.

Coloma said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry mentioned the continued cooperation between the U.S. and the Philippines when he visited Manila in October last year.

“From our perspective, the U.S. is one of our two strategic partners, the other is Japan,” he said.

Adm. Jonathan Greenert, U.S. Navy chief of naval operations, will visit Philippine Navy units from Feb. 12 to 15 to boost defense ties between the U.S. and the Philippines.

Greenert will meet Philippine Navy chief Vice Adm. Jose Luis Alano at the Navy Headquarters in Manila.

In a statement, Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic said: “The visit aims to strengthen the ties and interoperability between the two navies and further realize peace and stability in the region.”

Greenert and Alano will also tour Philippine naval units around the Manila-Cavite area, including the Philippine Fleet and the Naval Sea Systems Command in Cavite City.

Greenert is expected to call on Defense Secretary Voltaire in Camp Aguinaldo before visiting the Philippine Navy.

Department of National Defense spokesman Peter Galvez said Gazmin and Greenert might meet on Thursday.

The U.S. has vowed to support Philippine efforts to modernize its military.

The U.S. has given the Philippines two warships through its excess defense articles program.

Last month, Armed Forces chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista said the military needs to acquire about six naval vessels in the face of threats to Philippine territory.

The Philippines and the U.S. are crafting an agreement to increase the rotational presence of American troops in the Philippines.

The agreement is meant to enable the Philippines to achieve a “minimum credible defense.”

The Philippines and the U.S. have completed five rounds of talks since the negotiations started last August.

With Alexis Romero

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