The Philippine Navy is ready to support the recommendation of United States Navy Seventh Fleet Vice Admiral Robert Thomas to conduct joint patrols in the South China Sea with navies of Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei, and Malaysia. PN Flag Officer-in-Command Vice Admiral Jesus C. Millan said the Philippines already supported joint efforts like this. Vice Admiral Robert Thomas said, “if ASEAN members were to take the lead in organizing something along those lines, trust me, the U.S. 7th Fleet would be ready to support.”
“We have supported combined and joint patrolling for anti-piracy purposes, like in the Straits of Malacca, and this have been a successful one. We can support it if this will be the objective – preserving stability and freedom of navigation of international/domestic shipping,” Vice Admiral Milan said.
He added that framework should be established and supported by parties involved. “Joint patrolling is governed by frameworks of collaboration acceptable to all parties concerned and must be anchored on trust from each party’s factoring diplomatic, legal/political, and environmental considerations among others.”
However, he noted “for the disputed areas, I cannot comment on the position of the Philippine government as this must be addressed by concerned agencies.” Disputed waters, like in the West Philippine Sea, may not be covered by joint patrolling.