Japan, S. Korea, Australia to aid in Philippines' defence capability

Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - Aside from the United States, at least three other countries - Japan, South Korea and Australia - are helping the Philippines establish a minimum credible defence posture to complement its diplomatic capacity in dealing with its territorial disputes with China in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario pointed this out over the weekend as he also disclosed that the Tokyo government is likely to provide the country with 12 patrol boats.

"They're considering 10 forty-metre patrol boats on ODA (Official Development Aid) and two larger ones as grants," Del Rosario told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

In a text message, he also said: "Regarding South Korea, we have a logistics agreement and we have received equipment, such as vests and helmets (for the Armed Forces of the Philippines)."

"I understand our defence department is looking to possibly purchase aircraft from there," according to Del Rosario.

In November, President Benigno Aquino III asked visiting South Korean President Lee Myung-bak for aircraft, patrol boats and other hardware to help boost the country's military amid then rising tensions with China over the Spratlys Islands.

Lee did not disclose any response to the specific request but said Seoul wanted to help Manila resolve its maritime problems.

From Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs head said the country could expect to get "a number of vessels for search-and-rescue, as well as significant training here and abroad for large numbers of our military (personnel)."

"We expect increased help (from the Australian government) when the Status of the Visiting Forces Agreement (or SOFVA between Manila and Canberra) is ratified, hopefully this week," said Del Rosario.

The SOFVFA, which covers the "status of visiting forces from each state while in the territory of the other state," was signed on May 31, 2007 in the Australian capital by then Defence Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. and his counterpart Defence Minister Brendan Nelson.

The signing of the bilateral pact was witnessed by then President Gloria Arroyo and then Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

Last week, Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin confirmed reports that the Philippines would acquire at least 10 patrol boats from Japan.

However, he declined to discuss with reporters details of the acquisition still in progress.

Coast Guard head Vice Admiral Edmund Tan said they have been negotiating a loan for the acquisition of the vessels.

Meanwhile, the AFP chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Jessie Dellosa, said the process of building a credible defence for the country has been moving fast, with the Navy's acquisition of a second Hamilton-class cutter from the US.

The first such acquisition, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, figured in the early part of the standoff between the Philippines and China over the Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea, which Manila calls Bajo de Masinloc and Panatag Shoal.

On the other hand, Beijing refers to the rock formation as Huangyan Island.

Del Rosario has repeatedly said "we have committed ourselves to improve our national defence by building a minimum credible defence posture" as he also stressed the need to protect national sovereignty.

"Given the country's lack of resources, it behooves us to proactively seek the assistance and cooperation of our various international partners to achieve this minimum credible posture, which is a fundamental attribute of any sovereign country," he also said.

According to Del Rosario, the "defence track" is part of the DFA's comprehensive overall plan in promoting national security.

This year, the Philippines would be receiving about US$144.66 million in defence assistance from the US, he said.

Aside from the delivery of a second Coast Guard cutter, "negotiations are likewise underway for more defence articles, including newer air assets for the Philippine Air Force. We also successfully secured funding in the amount of $53 million for radar systems to be used by the Coast Guard Watch Council for enhanced maritime domain awareness."

He said Manila has been upgrading its defence partnership with Washington under the two allies' Mutual Defence Treaty, citing changes in the regional and global security environment.

Del Rosario emphasised their focal point for cooperation has been to "increase our capacity for territorial defence and maritime security."

Aside from the defence track, he also referred to the DFA's diplomatic or political track, where the country would continue to push for the transformation of the West Philippine Sea into a Zone of Peace, Freedom, Friendship, and Cooperation, or ZoPFFC.

Under the ZoPFFC, Manila would observe a rules-based approach to all disputes in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).

For the legal track, the DFA plans to continue coordinating with other concerned government agencies as it resorts to dispute settlement mechanisms under Unclos.

According to Del Rosario, "there are five of them and we're assessing which one is best for us, one that will serve our purpose well."

Scarborough Shoal lies north of the Spratlys and 124 nautical miles west of Zambales province (north of Manila).

Both asserting their territorial claim to the shoal, Manila and Beijing have refused to recall their vessels from the area.

China has violated the Asean Declaration on the Conduct of Parties "for not allowing us to enforce our laws in the country's 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone," according to Del Rosario.

The Philippines earlier filed a protest with the UN, challenging China's nine-dash claim that encompasses the whole West Philippine Sea.

Last month, Manila asked the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to take a stand on its dispute with China over the Scarborough Shoal.

Del Rosario asserted that "all, not just the Philippines, will ultimately be negatively affected if we do not take a stand."

He observed "if you take a good look, it appears to us that China wants to establish the rules. Obviously, there's a negative implication for everyone, not just the Philippines."

Asked if they would ask the US government's help in resolving the conflict, he said they "would want all nations to make a judgment as to what's happening there and what the implications are to their own countries."

He claimed Washington has already taken a "very constructive role" in resolving the Spratlys dispute, when it pushed for the application of international law in solving the problem.

COPYRIGHT: ASIA NEWS NETWORK

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • ISIS has not penetrated Phl – AFP
    ISIS has not penetrated Phl – AFP

    Security officials yesterday maintained that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has not penetrated the Philippines following an expert’s warning that the group poses a threat to the country. Abu Sayyaf, BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters), private armed groups to our knowledge are the people making problems down south,” Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr. said. The BIFF and the Abu Sayyaf have pledged allegiance to the ISIS but it remains uncertain whether they are …

  • Cerbo named national police intel chief
    Cerbo named national police intel chief

    Philippine National Police officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina yesterday ordered the appointment of PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr. as chief of the Directorate for Intelligence. …

  • Pump prices up anew
    Pump prices up anew

    Oil companies announced yesterday another round of price hikes with independent oil firms among the first to issue their respective announcements. PTT Philippines, the local subsidiary of Thailand’s biggest oil firm, and Phoenix Petroleum Philippines, another independent oil company, were among the first to issue their respective advisories. Seaoil Philippines also issued its announcement. …

  • PNP to ease rules on gun permit processing
    PNP to ease rules on gun permit processing

    The Philippine National Police will simplify requirements for getting a firearm’s permit under the new gun control law, PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina said yesterday. Espina said they are working to simplify the process to secure a license to own and possess firearms (LTOPF) amid complaints of excessive requirements from gun holders. Espina directed the Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO) to make it easier for legitimate gun owners to comply with the …

  • Mercy for Mary Jane: Pacman joins appeals
    Mercy for Mary Jane: Pacman joins appeals

    World boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao took time out yesterday from final preparations for his $400-million megafight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. to plead for the life of a Filipina on death row in Indonesia. Pacquiao, a national hero in the Philippines, added his voice to a chorus of global opposition led by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to the executions of a group of foreign drug convicts, including compatriot Mary Jane Veloso. The eight-division world champion, who will face …

  • Phl condoles as Nepal death toll hits 3,700
    Phl condoles as Nepal death toll hits 3,700

    Foreign rescue teams equipped with heavy cutting gear and relief supplies were landing round the clock at Nepal’s only international airport on the outskirts of Kathmandu, which has been devastated by Saturday’s 7.8-magnitude quake. “We need more helicopters for our rescue operations in rural areas,” said Nepal Home Affairs spokesman Laxmi Prasad Dhakal. In a statement issued yesterday, Aquino said a team from the Philippine embassy in New Delhi, India would travel to Nepal to meet the needs …

  • Heat index to rise to 39.9ºC on Friday
    Heat index to rise to 39.9ºC on Friday

    People in Metro Manila should stay indoors on Friday, wear lightweight and light-colored clothing and drink plenty of water as the heat index – the temperature as felt by the human body – may reach 39.9 degrees Celsius on that day. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said this level of apparent temperature may cause heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke. “Heat index is a human discomfort index that gives the apparent temperature, or …

  • Indonesia rebuffs last-ditch bids to delay drug-convict executions
    Indonesia rebuffs last-ditch bids to delay drug-convict executions

    By Kanupriya Kapoor and Jane Wardell CILACAP, Indonesia/SYDNEY (Reuters) - Indonesia said the execution of nine drug traffickers would go ahead this week, rebuffing last-minute appeals from Australia and the Philippines to spare their nationals and ignoring a decision by the Constitutional Court to hear a final challenge. Australia began the day with a plea for a stay in the execution of Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, saying reports that their trial had been tainted by corruption needed to …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options