General Romeo Brawner Jr., the Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), announced on Thursday that several countries, in addition to the United States, have indicated their desire to participate in joint maritime operations in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

“Certainly, this is part of our strategy, and presently, we are actively collaborating with other nations that have shown keen interest in joining us for these joint operations.” He went on to say, “Apart from the US, multiple countries have conveyed their intent to take part in these joint endeavors,” Brawner said.

For Brawner, this growing international interest is “a highly positive sign” for the Philippines, underscoring the presence of like-minded nations committed to upholding a rules-based global order and ensuring security in the Indo-Pacific region.

Joint Patrols with the United States

Admiral John Aquilino, commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, confirmed that the US and the Philippines have already conducted their first joint maritime patrol. He remarked, “Under the banner of joint patrols, we recently executed the first operation on September 4th, which was meticulously planned and executed by General Brawner’s team with approval from our leaders.” He added, “We will continue these efforts for the long term to safeguard freedom of navigation in both the seas and airspace, enabling peace and prosperity for all nations in the region.”

On the previous day, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. emphasized the significance of alliances with like-minded countries in response to “evolving threats” in the WPS. He told reporters at the Senate, “Given the changing threat landscape and the actions of other nations in the WPS, it is imperative that we leverage our alliances, not for any other purpose, but to reinforce adherence to a rules-based international order and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).”

Teodoro stressed the importance of Philippine allies in asserting the nation’s sovereignty in the WPS, saying, “Our struggle is to have our rights recognized by the entire world. Therefore, alliances with like-minded nations are crucial to having a strong, collective voice on the global stage.” (ai/mnm)