Gapay: Situation in South China Sea volatile and uncertain
During an online forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines yesterday, AFP chief Gen. Gilbert Gapay said the Philippines is keeping its presence in the South China Sea and pushing for a code of conduct that will ease tension in the region.
AFP/File
Gapay: Situation in South China Sea volatile and uncertain
Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) - October 14, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — With China and the United States still countering each other’s moves, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Gilbert Gapay believes that the situation in the South China Sea remains volatile and tense.

During an online forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines yesterday, Gapay said the Philippines is keeping its presence in the South China Sea and pushing for a code of conduct that will ease tension in the region.

Gapay said Beijing and Washington as well as its allies have shown aggressive actions in the South China Sea, with China’s warships “practically swarming most of the areas in the West Philippine Sea” and the US protecting its interests by advocating freedom of communication and navigation.

“The situation in the South China Sea remains volatile and uncertain because of actions of China and the United States,” he said.

Gapay said China recently fired a missile in the West Philippine Sea, which prompted the Philippines to file a diplomatic protest against Beijing.

“The United States also displayed a show of force in the area. So it’s very tense and right now, the effort really is multilateral action and talking about how to peacefully resolve these issues,” he said.

Gapay said the AFP is doing its part in protecting the country’s territory as the military regularly conducts naval and air patrols in the West Philippine Sea with the help of the Philippine Coast Guard.

Part of such presence involves “improving our facilities in the nine occupied features in the West Philippine Sea where military troops are deployed and are building monitoring stations and other facilities,” Gapay added.

He said there is also coordination and cooperation with other claimant countries, which forms part of the national government’s strategy to peacefully and diplomatically resolve issues in the region through bilateral and multi-lateral approaches.

Gapay expressed hope that the code of conduct being drafted would be finished by the end of the year or early next year that would prevent miscommunications, hostile actions and armed conflicts.

SOUTH CHINA SEA
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