“The naval exercises themselves do very little to develop our own capability for external defense.”
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) criticized what appears to be a show of force against China by Philippine, American and Japanese naval forces holding exercises in the West Philippines Sea, calling it “a false united front.”
The Philippines kicked off simultaneous joint naval exercises with the US and Japan today, June 22, in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, facing the West Philippine Sea. The naval drills with the US will end on June 26.
The naval war games are being held in the face of China’s continued aggression and reported military build-up within Philippine territorial waters.
“The Filipino people should be wary because the ongoing military exercises between the US, Japan and the Philippines are nothing but a ploy to project US military power in the region as part of its pivot to Asia,” Bayan said in a statement.
“The US is merely exploiting the PH dispute with China by presenting a false ‘united front’ against China,” the statement said.
The annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (Carat) between the Philippine Navy and the US Navy and Marine Corps will also take place in the waters and air over Sulu Sea. Carat features “combined operations at sea, mobile dive and salvage training, coastal riverine operations, and maritime patrol and reconnaissance.”
Participating in Carat for the first time is the littoral combat ship (LCS) USS Fort Worth. The drills will also feature the rescue and salvage ship USNS Safeguard (T-ARS-50) and forward-deployed P-3 Orion aircraft.
The Philippine Navy’s joint exercises with the Japanese Maritime Self-defense Force will be held separately, also in the West Philippine Sea.
Bayan said Japan also aspires to expand its military might in Asia and other parts of the world, but is only a “junior partner” of the US, and is under “the US military umbrella in the region.”
“The naval exercises are meant to promote US and Japan imperialist interests in the region. These two powers do not care for Philippine sovereignty nor territorial integrity,” Bayan said. The statement added that the Philippines should instead “develop its own economy and defense capability,” independent of foreign powers.
Bayan stressed that naval war games “do very little to develop our own capability for external defense.” This year’s Carat is the 21st naval drills between the country and the US, having started in 1995.