Manila, Nov 21 (EFE).- The Philippines and US armed forces began joint maritime and air patrols in the South China Sea on Tuesday, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said, as tensions rise over littoral disputes with China.
“Today marks the beginning of joint maritime and air patrols—a collaborative effort between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the United States Indo-Pacific Command in the West Philippine Sea,” Marcos Jr. wrote on the social networking site X, previously Twitter.
The Philippines calls the South China Sea littoral zone near the Philippine coast the West Philippine Sea.
The announcement of joint patrols came after the Philippines and the US vowed to deepen their military ties amid rising tensions between Manila and Beijing over ongoing incidents between Chinese and Filipino vessels around the disputed islets that both countries claim.
“This significant initiative is a testament to our commitment to bolster the interoperability of our military forces in conducting maritime and air patrols,” the president said.
Marcos Jr. said the joint patrols were “part of a series of events agreed upon” by both nations to “contribute to a more secure and stable environment for our people.”
The joint maritime and air patrols are scheduled to continue until Nov. 23, Colonel Eugene Henry Cabusao of the northern Luzon command told the local media.
The military patrols are taking place off the island of Mavulis, the northernmost island of the Philippines, located about 100 kilometers from Taiwan.
In February, the Philippines granted the US access to four new military bases in the archipelago, bringing the total to nine.
One of the bases is located about 400 kilometers from Taiwan, while another is on the island of Balabac, close to the disputed islands that Beijing and Manila claim in the South China Sea.
China and the Philippines maintain disputes over the sovereignty of several islands and atolls in the South China Sea, which Beijing claims almost entirely.
In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled in favor of Manila in the dispute. EFE