Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Sunday insisted that the Philippines needs to have “real-time” access to United States intelligence data regarding the actual situation in the West Philippine Sea and “will not settle for less”.
Locsin made this comment several hours after the reported telephone conversation between US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in which they discussed the current situation near the West Philippine Sea where hundreds of Chinese “militia vessels” were earlier moored at Julian Felipe Reef (Whitsun Reef), an area within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
“We need to know everything the US knows all the time at the same time. Period. Won’t settle for less,” the foreign secretary said in a tweet.
On Saturday (Sunday in Manila), Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said Secretary Austin proposed to his Filipino counterpart several measures, among which, by “enhancing situational awareness of threats in the South China Sea.”
Locsin, however, said the Philippines had been seeking the sharing of real-time information with the United States through the Armed Forces.
“We’ve been asking for this but the AFP insists on demand(ing) real-time access/sharing of data as it is gathered and not first collected, parsed, shared on a need-to-know basis,” he said.
The Philippines has filed a series of diplomatic protests against China over the past few weeks following the incursion of more than 200 Chinese vessels in Julian Felipe Reef, a boomerang-shaped reef located 175 nautical miles from Bataraza, Palawan.