PH Coast Guard mulls exercises with China
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Wednesday, May 6, broached the possibility of conducting joint activities with China despite the dispute between Manila and Beijing over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
"We have ongoing discussions, and maybe we will have cooperation in the future to have exercises with China. It is not far-fetched," PCG spokesman Commander Armand Balilo said.
Balilo said the Philippines and China can conduct joint activities on "environmental protection, maritime safety, and search and rescue."
He explained these to be "borderless" issues.
"For these activities, nothing is impossible," he said. "These are inherent functions of the coast guard that could be the subject of a multilateral or bilateral exercise even with China."
The PCG conducted joint maritime safety drill with the Japan Coast Guard on Wednesday. The exercise directors from both countries downplayed questions on whether the activity was meant to address China's aggression in the West Philippine Sea.
'There is friendship'
The Philippines and China remain locked in a territorial and maritime dispute over the South China Sea.
The Philippines has filed a historic arbitration case against China over the sea dispute, and expects a ruling on the case by 2016. (READ: Philippines vs China hearing set in July)
Despite this, the Chinese Coast Guard has shown signs it is willing to work with its Philippine counterpart.
The Chinese Coast Guard, in fact, attended the 11th Heads of Asian Coast Guard Agencies Meeting in Manila from May 4 to 6.
The event aimed to boost ties between Asian coast guard agencies for borderless issues such as terrorism and human trafficking.
Balilo said: "Despite the West Philippine Sea issue, the China Coast Guard is here. We appreciate that…There is friendship and camaraderie being built." – Rappler.com