US, PH defense chiefs to meet over developments in West PH Sea
CAVITE CITY, Philippines – Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin is leaving for Hawaii on Tuesday, May 26, for bilateral talks with his US counterpart Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.
"The West Philippine Sea is one of the topics we will discuss. Tatanungin natin hanggang saan ang tulong na ibibigay sa atin. Ano ang magagawa nila at paano tayo matutulungan? Right now, tayo ang naapi. Titignan natin ano ang extent ng assistance na maibigigay nila to more or less keep us safe from harassment," Gazmin told reporters on Monday, May 25.
(We will ask how far they will go to help us. What can they do and how can they help us? Right now, we are being bullied. We will see the extent of assistance they will give to more or less keep us safe from harassment.)
Both defense chiefs will be in Hawaii for the change of command ceremony between retiring US Pacific Command (Pacom) chief Admiral Samuel Locklear and its incoming chief Admiral Harry Harris. Pacom is responsible for US military deployment in the Asia-Pacific region.
The bilateral meeting is scheduled as the US takes a more aggressive stance against China's reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) and mulls sending its assets to challenge China.
The tension escalated again as China started in April to challenge Philippine and American planes flying over the disputed region. The US Navy recently allowed international network CNN to join a mission of its spy plane P8-A to see China's reclamation activities and witness how it challenges planes.
China's air patrol challenges have prompted concerns that it is meaning to impose an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the disputed region, which both the Philipipnes and US said they are not going to recognize. (READ: PH to fly over disputed South China Sea – Aquino)
Last year, tension erupted in East China Sea when China imposed an ADIZ over disputed islands occupied by Japan and South Korea. US also joined the two countries in defying the ADIZ. – Rappler.com