MANILA — In the face of China's rising aggression in the South China Sea, one envoy on Friday assured the Philippines it has an ally in Australia.
According to Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Hae Kyong Yu, ties between Canberra and Manila are always evolving and their defense cooperation runs deep.
She added that the 2 countries are regularly conducting joint exercises between their military and navy.
"We have just completed our 8-course on law of the sea that Australian government has been running with the Philippine government. And through that, we were able to train around 440 Filipino officials from 23 different agencies," Yu told ANC's "Headstart".
"We are also engaging much more closely with Philippine Coast Guard because we recognize that their capabilities and their capacity in this environment is really, really important," she added.
Yu called on the international community to reject any maritime claims made by China that go against international law.
She stressed that the South China Sea, which is a vital international waterway, should be peaceful and respectful of international law.
"This is why Australian government has said we do not accept claims that go against the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea)," Yu said.
"This is why Australia is one of the first countries to publicly show our support for the Philippines when 2016 arbitral award was delivered.
"We have to make sure that the international community makes it clear that UNCLOS provides that guidance and all parties should adhere towards and abide by the 2016 arbitral award," she added.
This comes as a Chinese security vessel was accused of using a military-grade laser light against a Philippine patrol boat in the disputed South China Sea.
Yu earlier said the Chinese vessel's move was "unsafe and intimidatory."
Beijing claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea and has ignored a ruling at the Hague that its claims have no legal basis.
Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei also have overlapping claims to parts of the South China Sea.
— With reports from Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News; Agence France-Presse