MANILA - The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has confirmed the Philippines is crafting guidelines on the conduct of combined maritime activities, including joint patrols, in the West Philippine Sea with the United States and other regional partners.
In a text message to reporters, DFA spokesperson Ma. Teresita Daza said operational details, including on the possibility of engaging other regional partners, will be part of the Philippines-US discussions within the framework of the Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board (MDB-SEB).
"PH is in the process of crafting guidelines for the conduct of combined maritime activities in the WPS, including joint patrols. Operational details, including on the possibility of engaging other regional partners, will be part of PH-U.S. discussions within the framework of the MDB-SEB,” Daza said.
Last month, US naval operations chief Admiral Michael Gilday visited Manila and said the US is "committed" to conducting joint maritime patrols with the Philippines in the disputed South China Sea.
Beijing's growing assertiveness on Taiwan and its building of bases in the contested South China Sea have given fresh impetus to Washington and Manila to repair their partnership.
Previous Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte favored China over the US, but the new administration of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has been keen to reverse that.
The longtime treaty allies agreed this month to resume joint maritime patrols, and also struck a deal to give US troops access to another four military bases in the Philippines.
Gilday said the countries are "in the beginning of the planning stages" for combined maritime activities, but he insisted the United States was "committed and focused".
China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, through which trillions of dollars in trade passes annually, and has ignored an international court ruling that its claims have no legal basis.
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