Carpio suggests joint patrols with Malaysia, Vietnam in South China Sea
This file photo from November 2019, representatives of the navies of Malaysia and Indonesia are in Panglima Sugala, Tawi-Tawi as part of "trilateral patrols" in waters off the southern Philippines.
Capt. Joann Petinglay, Western Mindanao Command, file

Carpio suggests joint patrols with Malaysia, Vietnam in South China Sea

Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - April 27, 2020 - 2:43pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines should join forces with Malaysia and Vietnam to counter China's "grave escalation" of tensions in the South China Sea, retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs had filed a diplomatic protest against China for pointing its gun control director at a Philippine Navy ship near Malampaya gas field in the West Philippine Sea.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Command had confirmed that a People's Liberation Army Navy corvette pointed its gun control director—a computer that calculates firing solutions—at the BRP Conrado Yap in February.

Carpio, in an online forum organized by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines, noted that the Malampaya area cuts through Beijing's so-called nine-dash line in the South China Sea, part of which is the West Philippine Sea.

The retired Supreme Court magistrate also recalled that a Chinese ship and coast guard vessels also went near Malaysia's Petronas drilling area in the South China Sea mid-April.

Last year, Vietnam and China were involved in a standoff after Beijing deployed coast guard vessels and survey ships at Hanoi-controlled Vanguard Bank.

'Unity' patrols

"I think we should have joint patrols with Vietnam and Malaysia. We patrol their [exclusive economic zone]," Carpio said Monday.

Carpio said the navies of the three countries could jointly patrol each other's territorial waters, sending a message to Beijing.

"We'll be sending a message... China cannot just pick us out one by one. We are united," he said.

The navies of the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia already hold joint patrols in waters off the southern Philippines to deter kidnapping, piracy and maritime terrorism. 

Stressing that the Philippines should take the matter seriously, Carpio also suggested joining the Americans in their naval patrols in the South China Sea if China insists on "doing the same thing."

While pointing its fire control system radar at a Philippine Navy ship could not considered an act of war, Carpio said it was a hostile act.

Citing the rules of naval engagement, Carpio said locking one's fire control radar on another ship is just one step to firing, which happens in less than a second.

"We don't do that that because you can mistake and you can trigger an accidental war so navies do not do that unless you want to bully another country," Carpio added.

'Taking advantage of pandemic'

Carpio also lamented how China is taking advantage of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, which originated from Wuhan City in Hubei province.

"China doesn't want to let this pandemic crisis go to waste... China is taking advantage of our difficulty right now so I think it's time really to talk to our neighbors Vietnam and Malaysia, perhaps even Indonesia, that we should now conduct joint patrols," the retired magistrate said.

Earlier this month, China Global Television Network reported that Beijing established two districts to administer the Paracel and Spratly Islands in the South China Sea under Sansha City in Hainan province.

The Philippines is also claiming some features in the Spratly Islands.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. confirmed that the DFA also lodged a diplomatic protest before the Chinese Embassy in Manila for "declaring parts of Philippine territory as part of Hainan province."

The Philippines' top diplomat said China's actions constitute "violations of internatonal law and Philippine sovereignty."

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: April 18, 2021 - 2:44pm

The United States Navy's Nimitz-class nuclear powered supercarrier USS John C. Stennis continues underway in the South China Sea.

The US Pacific Command just reported that it has received "cargo" from support ship USNS Rainier in the disputed waters.

April 18, 2021 - 2:44pm

The Department of National Defense denounces as "irresponsible propaganda" social media posts claiming that retired and active military officers have withdrawn support for President Rodrigo Duterte over the situation in the West Philippine Sea.

"Such disinformation is an act of reckless agitation emanating from detractors, who have a limited and myopic appreciation of issues," Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana says.

Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, earlier Sunday also disputed the social media rumor, as well as claims of "'warplanes' from various countries taking off and landing in Clark Airbase." 

April 14, 2021 - 9:11am

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin orders the filing of another diplomatic protest as NTF-WPS reports that 240 Chinese maritime militia vessels, claimed by Chinese authorities as ordinary fishing vessels, continuously swarm the West Philippine Sea.

April 13, 2021 - 1:11pm

The Department of Foreign Affairs summons Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian and expresses "displeasure" over the "illegal lingering presence" of Chinese ships in Julian Felipe Reef in the West Philippine Sea.

The DFA says it summoned Huang on April 12, where Acting Undersecretary Elizabeth Buensuceso informed him that the reef lies within the Philippine exclusive economic zone.

"The continuing presence of Chinese vessels around the Reef is a source of regional tension," the DFA says.

April 5, 2021 - 3:42pm

The Department of Foreign Affairs says Chinese Embassy’s statement in response to DND Sec. Lorenzana “contained blatant falsehoods such as claims of adverse weather conditions when there were none and the supposed non-existence of maritime militia vessels” in Julian Felipe Reef.

"The continued deployment, lingering presence, and activities of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea and China’s tolerance thereof blatantly infringe upon Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction," the agency says.

April 4, 2021 - 1:37pm

"China should respect Philippine sovereignty over the Kalayaan Islands and its sovereign rights over its Exclusive Economic Zone as defined by [UN Convention on the Law of the Sea]," Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana says in response to the Chinese Embassy labelling his call for Chinese ships to leave the Julian Felipe Reef "perplexing."

The embassy also urged him to "avoid any unprofessional remarks which may further fan irrational emotions" over the South China Sea dispute.

"The continued presence of Chinese maritime militias in the area reveals their intent to further occupty features in the West Philippine Sea," Lorenzana says, citing previous activity at Panatag Shoal.

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