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Philippines, US sea patrols underway

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines and the United States yesterday launched their first-ever joint patrols in the West Philippine Sea amid a strengthening of ties between the two nations in the face of China’s growing belligerence in asserting its maritime claims.

President Marcos made the announcement on his official X account yesterday, a few days after visiting the US Indo-Pacific Command in Honolulu, Hawaii as part of his six-day working visit to the US last week, accompanied by the country’s top military brass.

“Today (Tuesday) marks the beginning of joint maritime and air patrols – a collaborative effort between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the United States Indo-Pacific Command in the West Philippine Sea,” the President said.

Marcos said the joint activity, which will run until Nov. 23, aims to enhance the interoperability of both military forces in the conduct of maritime and air patrols.

“This significant initiative is a testament to our commitment to bolster the interoperability of our military forces in conducting maritime and air patrols,” he said.

“Through collaborative efforts, we aim to enhance regional security and foster a seamless partnership with the United States in safeguarding our shared interests,” the commander-in-chief said.

Authorities did not say how often the joint patrols would be held.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Col. Xerxes Trinidad said the joint patrols “will commence in the vicinity of Batanes and will end in the West Philippine Sea.”

“It will involve three navy vessels, two FA-50PH and one A-29B Super Tucano from the side of the AFP while the US will send in one Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and one P8-A Poseidon maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft,” Trinidad said. Northern Luzon Command’s Eugene Cabusao said the joint patrols would begin off Mavulis Island in Batanes, which is about 100 kms off Taiwan.

The announcement came a day after Marcos told a forum in Hawaii that the situation in the South China Sea had become more “dire than it was before,” with the Chinese military inching closer to the Philippine coastline.

The patrols are likely to irk China, which has warned