Manila: The Philippines has scheduled two separate joint-war games with allies Japan and the United States in late June, sources said, adding these would be a show of force to temper China’s flexing of its maritime muscle in the South China Sea.
The Japan-Philippine maritime drills will be part of the visit of Japan’s Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) to the Philippines from June 22 to 25, Philippine Navy spokesman Col Edgard Arevalo said.
A Japanese P-3C maritime surveillance aircraft will take part in a simulated war exercise alongside a Philippine warship and helicopter, to be held in one of the western seaboards that faces the South China Sea, a source from the Navy who requested anonymity told Gulf News.
Japan and the Philippines will hold maritime exercises related to disaster response such as search and rescue operations, humanitarian assistance, information sharing of new tactics, procedures, and techniques, situational awareness training, maritime operations, and staff-to-staff talks, the same source said.
In early June, Philippine President Benigno Aquino and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe concluded an agreement in Tokyo, allowing Japan to export defence equipment and technology to the Philippines; send JMSDF to the Philippines for joint war games; and for the two countries to draft a proposed visiting forces agreement that will allow Japan’s war materiel and troops access to Philippine military bases.
Last May 12, Japanese destroyers — JS Harusame and Amigiri which had 600 personnel; and Philippines’ second-had naval warship, BRP Ramon Alcaraz which had 100 personnel, held a one-day naval drill implementing the Code for Unplanned Encounter at Sea (CUES) near Scarborrough Shoal off central Philippines which China had taken over after a standoff between Chinese and Philippine vessels in 2012,
Last Sept 25. 2014, Japan and Philippine navies held sea drills off Palawan, southwestern Philippines.
In 2013, the Philippines and Japan concluded an agreement for the sale of 10 patrol vessels for the Philippine Coast Guard, with $150 million loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
At the same time, the Philippines and the US will also hold joint war-exercises in the same period, off Palawan in southwestern Philippines, said the Philippine Navy.
The two countries have been holding joint war games since they concluded the Philippines-US VFA in 1998. It serves as a term of reference and guidelines for large scale joint war games.
In 2014, the Philippines and the US inked Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) that would allow increased US troop rotation and access of US troops and war materiel in eight Philippine bases. The Supreme Court has yet to decide on questions raised about EDCA’s legality.
China recently announced the ending of its reclamation and island enhancement projects on seven reefs and shoals in the South China Sea, three of which are within the West Philippine Sea, the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines in the South China Sea. It was seen as a preparation for the seventh bilateral talks of China and the US.
China and Japan have overlapping claims in the East Sea.
China, Taiwan, and Vietnam claim the whole of the South China Sea and parts of the Spratly Archipelago. Brunei, Malaysia, and the Philippines claim their respective EEZ in the South China Sea and parts of the Spratly Archipelago.
The Philippines elevated its compliant versus China before the arbitration court of the United Nations, but China has refused to participate in the international legal process.