US maintains commitment to Philippine defense amid sea row
Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - January 14, 2016 - 1:53am

MANILA, Philippines - The United States maintained its commitment to the defense of the Philippines following the rising tensions in the West Philippine Sea.

Defense spokesperson Peter Paul Galvez said that the US is committed to maintain its presence in the disputed sea, which would include naval, sub-sea, air and special forces.

"The 2+2 meeting extensively discussed the South China Sea issue, with the US side reiterating the US ironclad commitment to the defense of the Philippines while the Philippines batting for joint patrols. The US also conveyed that it remains committed to the AFP's (Armed Forces of the Philippines) modernization program," Galvez said.

The US vowed to ensure freedom of navigation in the disputed waters by continuing to fly and sail whenever and whenever international law allows, according to Galvez.

"Noting China’s claim that it will not militarize the area, the US suggested the need for parties in the South China Sea to have a common and shared understanding of the term 'militarization' to avoid growing tensions. A common sense among the other parties would put pressure on China," the Defense spokesperson said.

The US stressed that it will not allow China to control the South China Sea.

Galvez noted that the Philippines and the Maritime Security Initiative is a good project for the two countries' strategic engagement.

The two countries agreed to explore the possibility of the participation of other partners such as Japan and Australia in the Philippines-US exercises and activities, according to a report.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin recently met with US Secretary of State John Kerry and US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter for the 2+2 Ministerial Meeting.

The officials discussed bilateral and regional issues, including the dispute on the West Philippine Sea.

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ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES DEFENSE SECRETARY ASHTON CARTER FOREIGN SECRETARY ALBERT GALVEZ JAPAN AND AUSTRALIA MINISTERIAL MEETING NOTING CHINA PHILIPPINES QUOT SOUTH CHINA SEA WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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