AFP ready for multi-nation patrols, exercises in West Philippine Sea

Rainier Allan Ronda - The Philippine Star
AFP ready for multi-nation patrols, exercises in West Philippine Sea
Members of the Philippine Army maneuver their vehicles around the Quirino Grandstand on June 10, 2023, in preparation for the 125th Independence Day celebration on June 12, 2023.
Photo by Ernie Penaredondo / The Philippine STAR

MANILA, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is preparing for more joint patrols in the West Philippine Sea with the country’s allies, which may also shift from the current bilateral arrangements to multilateral patrols in 2024 and beyond.

The thrust toward multilateral patrols was part of a “paradigm shift” in the country’s efforts to assert sovereignty over its exclusive economic zone as put forward by President Marcos, AFP spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar said.

“You can expect more patrols in the coming year,” Aguilar said in an interview on radio dzBB yesterday.

Aguilar said that the President, in his address when he joined the AFP’s celebration of its anniversary on Dec. 21, had explained that the paradigm shift involved “establishing, strengthening our alliances with foreign countries so that our armed forces will be stronger, and that we are able to strengthen also legal procedures, legal instrumentalities that will advance our interests and at the same time regional peace and stability.”

“We remain with our diplomatic thrust but it will be an invigorated one,” he said.

“And I think we are already gaining ground on this matter. Because, lately we had a joint patrol, air and maritime patrol with the United States, followed by one with Australia. And soon, later on, probably with Japan and other countries who have actually signified their intention to join us in our maritime patrols particularly in our protecting West Philippine Sea and in maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” he said.

“Our president had already said that it’s just a start and there are many more to come,” the military spokesman added.

“This will not be just bilateral, maybe later on this can become multilateral,” Aguilar said. “Meaning it will involve several countries.

“We in the AFP are preparing. We continue to hone our skills. Of course, we should be able to tell the whole world that while we are small, we are also capable of performing tasks that modern countries are doing,” he assured the public.

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