A ranking congressman is asking the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to hasten its discussions with ally-countries like the United States (US) and Japan in connection with the proposed joint maritime patrols in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
“We are hoping that our Coast Guard officials could put on the fast lane the ongoing separate talks with their counterparts in our ally-countries like the US and Japan on the proposed conduct of joint maritime patrols in the WPS," Camarines Sur 2nd district Rep. LRay Villafuerte said in a statement Friday, Feb. 24.
Villafuerte, majority leader of the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA), made this statement even as assailed Chinese vessels in the region for its "non-stop intrusions and bellicose maneuvers" in the region.
Earlier this month, a Chinese vessel reportedly directed its military-grade laser at a Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) ship in the WPS within the South China Sea (SCS).
Villafuerte said these acts are "in violation of a 2016 international arbitration court ruling that such part of the SCS is Philippine territory.
He was referring to the July 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, Netherlands, which affirmed the Philippines’ claim to sovereignty over the WPS and ruled as illegal China’s expansive nine-dash-line claim over then entire SCS.
Villafuerte also expressed the hope that the government could similarly continue talks with Canberra officials on possible joint patrols with Australia in the disputed territory.
He called on the PCG to “expand the scope of such planned joint patrols to check future Chinese incursions by initiating similar negotiations, if there aren’t any yet, with our allies other than the US and Japan that have likewise condemned what the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) described in its latest diplomatic protest as Beijing’s ‘aggressive actions’ in the WPS".