Duterte orders military not to join naval exercises with other countries in West PH Sea – Lorenzana

Imahe mula sa World Defense Review
  • Duterte has a standing order for the military not to join any naval exercises in WPS
  • This was revealed by Philippine Defense chief Delfin Lorenzana
  • Lorenzana said other countries involved in the territorial dispute have different interest than the Philippines

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the military to refrain from joining any naval exercises with other countries in the West Philippine Sea; this was revealed by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

“President Rodrigo Duterte has a standing order to us, to me, that we should not involve ourselves in naval exercises in the South China Sea except our national waters, the 12 mile distance from our shores,” said Lorenzana.

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This comes after Duterte admitted in his 5th state of the nation address (SONA) that he is ‘inutile’ and helpless against China’s continued aggression in the West Philippine Sea even as he proposed to pursue “diplomatic endeavors” instead.

Last month, the United States conducted freedom of navigation and military exercises in the disputed waters in another display of rejection of China’s sweeping claims to the territory contested by several countries.

America’s ally, Australia, has also been in verbal skirmishes with China after it conducted joint maritime exercises in the South China Sea recently.

On the other hand, the Philippines Defense chief said they ‘cannot exercise with them in the South China Sea’ in heed of Duterte’s standing order.

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“If one country’s action is considered as belligerent, another tension will normally rise, so I hope that all the parties in this exercise will have, will work on their actions there, to exercise prudence and carefulness so that there will be no miscalculations that could further increase the tension,” Lorenzana added.

He also defended the President’s stance as a “realistic and pragmatic approach.”

While many countries are getting involved in the WPS dispute, Lorenzana added, most of them have different interests than the Philippines, which is mainly about the issue of freedom of navigation.