Both Philippine and US marines have decided to cut short their joint military exercises and end their war games a day earlier than scheduled.
The pronouncement was made after both parties agreed to end the exercises October 11 instead of the original October 12. This was announced by Philippine marines spokesperson Captain Ryan Lacuesta.
Meanwhile Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio reiterated during the closing rites of the Philippine Amphibious Landing Exercise 33 (PHIBLEX) that the country is in constant need of naval powers to successfully claim freedom of navigation in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
The closing ceremony was held at the Philippine Marine headquarters, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig.
During the ceremony, Carpio also said that the West Philippine Sea includes the territorial sea and exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Philippines.
It can be recalled that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte announced that the recently concluded PHIBLEX will be the last Philippine military engagement with that of the US military under his term. He explained that the reason for his decision is that he wants to open relations with both Russia and Beijing.
However, in contrary to Duterte’s statement, Carpio claimed that as per the Philippine Constitution, the country must carry on efforts that would protect our territory. This can be done by sending patrol ships that would help prevent foreign fishing vessels both from fishing and poaching within the country’s maritime waters.
With regard to Malampaya, a report from Philippine Star stated that it is still part of the country due to its location, which is 43 nautical miles from Palawan.
“Malampaya supplies 40 percent of energy requirement of Luzon. We have to protect that. It’s vital to our interests. There is a provision in the Constitution that the state should protect its EEZ. The Constitution says the Armed Forces is responsible for protecting the national territory. Who is the head of the Armed Forces? The President,” Carpio said.
US PHILBLEX director and 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade commander Brig. Gen. John Janssen declared the joint exercises as a success.
It is believed that around 2,000 Filipino and US marines participated in the joint military exercises.