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Military exercises not meant to provoke China – Palace

Rappler.com
The Balikatan exercises between US and Philippine military have been scheduled long before the Scarborough Shoal incident, says Palace spokesperson

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang stressed that the US-Philippine joint military exercises near the West Philippine Sea scheduled for Monday, April 16, are not meant to provoke China amid continuing tension over the Scarborough Shoal incident.

In a press briefing on Sunday, April 15, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said that the joint exercises have been scheduled long before the incident at the Scarborough Shoal, the site of a standoff between a Philippine Navy ship and a group of Chinese civilian and military seacraft.

“This has nothing to so with the incident in Panatag [Shoal] because the exercises are always scheduled in advance….We are hoping that this will not result in provocation. The exercises have long been scheduled,” Valte said.

US silence

Meantime, the US government remains mum about the recent Scarborough standoff.

Asked if the Philippines will ask superpower to take a stand on the issue, Valte said this has not been even considered “because the concentration really is how to solve the incident through diplomatic means.”

“Right now really the focus is on keeping the lines open with the other party to ensure a diplomatic solution,” she said.

Ambassador to China

However, the Philippines has yet to confirm a new Philippine ambassador to China.
 
The Aquino administration’s bet for ambassador to China, Domingo Lee, has yet to pass the scrutiny of the Commission on Appointments. Since Lee was appointed two years ago, he has failed to get clearance 3x.

Valte assured that Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario is on top of the situation in the meantime. 

“There are some more issues that Mr. Lee has to answer before the Commission on Appointments. But, be that as it may, Secretary Albert del Rosario has been heading the diplomatic efforts to address the incident at Panatag Shoal,” Valte said. – Rappler.com

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