Greenert: ‘Expect stronger US message VS China aggression’
MANILA, Philippines – The US navy’s chief of operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert is in the Philippines.
He assures the Philippines of American support against China’s aggression in the South China Sea.
Carmela Fonbuena reports.
US chief of naval operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert is the latest in a growing list of officials to sit down with Filipino counterparts. He says expect stronger US message against China’s aggression.
JONATHAN GREENERT, US CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS ADMIRAL: The preponderance and collection of activity by China has caused us to be more clear on where we stand on this. You know, the ADIZ, the unilateral declaration of extended fishing grounds. It gets so confusing, and maybe worse conflicting with international norms.
The Philippines has one of the weakest militaries in Asia but it is one of the most vocal in challenging China’s aggressiveness especially inside the country’s exclusive economic zone.
The Philippines is now asking for increased presence of US troops here, a request that coincides with the us pivot to asia.
JONATHAN GREENERT, US CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS ADMIRAL: What does it mean to the Philippines? We’ll be available to operate, to work together to be able to be comfortable with our partnership and going to the direction that we want to. If push comes to shove, Greenert vows the US will be there to help. Of course we will help you. We have an obligation because of the treaty.
Greenert reiterates, dialogue is the way to resolve the tension.
JONATHAN GREENERT, US CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS ADMIRAL: Move the dialogue less in the dialogue where we are going to end in confrontation and combat. It doesn’t have to be that way if we use the process we put in place. We should exhaust that.
In April, the different navies will gather in China for the Western Pacific Naval symposium. The meeting seeks to draw up common protocols that will guide countries in encounters at sea.
JONATHAN GREENERT, US CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS ADMIRAL: I don’t know if I'm optimistic as much as I'm saying we're going to be deliberate. What the heck is this?
President Aquino says the Philippine and the US are close to finalizing the bases access deal.
The next round of negotiations happens in March.
All eyes are on the panels if they can finish the deal in time for the Obama’s visit.
Carmela Fonbuena, Rappler Manila. – Rappler.com