News / Asia

    US-Philippines War Games Open in Disputed Waters

    The USS John S. McCain destroyer at Subic Bay, Philippines, June 26, 2014. (Simone Orendain/VOA)The USS John S. McCain destroyer at Subic Bay, Philippines, June 26, 2014. (Simone Orendain/VOA)
    x
    The USS John S. McCain destroyer at Subic Bay, Philippines, June 26, 2014. (Simone Orendain/VOA)
    The USS John S. McCain destroyer at Subic Bay, Philippines, June 26, 2014. (Simone Orendain/VOA)
    Simone Orendain

    This week the United States and Philippines launched military joint exercises in the South China Sea.  With a newly signed military agreement between the treaty allies, the Philippines, which is locked in a dispute with China over territorial claims in the sea, is now heavily focused on beefing up its maritime capabilities.

    This year’s exercises include the Philippines’ two newest and biggest warships. Philippines fleet commander Rear Admiral Jaime Bernardino said the country is dealing with various “threats” at a time that its “modest” military upgrade is taking shape.
     
    Bernardino said the Philippine troops need to train hard and get their ships ready.  He said the decades-old former U.S. coast guard cutters are “purposely being put to the test” now that they have been converted into frigates.
     
    “You see these ships?  Their capability [is] to detect aircraft, to detect submarines, to detect surface assets and [to] try to board and search,” he explained.
     

    Commodore Ramon Joseph Mercado, Philippines exercises commander, Rear Admiral Jaime Bernardino, Philippine Fleet Commander and Rear Admiral Stuart Munsch, U.S. Commander of Submarine Group 7 stand to attention during opening rites of the joint naval exercCommodore Ramon Joseph Mercado, Philippines exercises commander, Rear Admiral Jaime Bernardino, Philippine Fleet Commander and Rear Admiral Stuart Munsch, U.S. Commander of Submarine Group 7 stand to attention during opening rites of the joint naval exerc
    x
    Commodore Ramon Joseph Mercado, Philippines exercises commander, Rear Admiral Jaime Bernardino, Philippine Fleet Commander and Rear Admiral Stuart Munsch, U.S. Commander of Submarine Group 7 stand to attention during opening rites of the joint naval exerc
    Commodore Ramon Joseph Mercado, Philippines exercises commander, Rear Admiral Jaime Bernardino, Philippine Fleet Commander and Rear Admiral Stuart Munsch, U.S. Commander of Submarine Group 7 stand to attention during opening rites of the joint naval exerc

    The frigates, docked at the former U.S. naval base in Subic, are being retrofitted with machine guns and have brand new companion helicopters from Italy that officials say will serve as a second set of eyes from above.  Bernardino says the helicopters will also be able to land on other ships, delivering crews to search for contraband onboard.
     
    Lieutenant Rommel Rodriguez is Philippine Navy spokesman for the exercises known as CARAT (Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training).  He regularly participates in the joint training and says he has seen a marked difference with being able to use the new hardware.
     
    “These helicopters are able to scour the vast sea in a very quick span of time giving the information and coordinates to operating ships in the area, which gives us more efficiency.  It lessens our operating expenses so it’s more efficient,” explained Rodriguez.
     
    Officials say they are focused on better monitoring the surrounding seas.  The Philippines, with a $1.9 billion military budget in 2014, is focused on building up its “minimum credible defense posture” in the face of China’s growing assertion of its claims in the South China Sea.
     
    China, which said it is spending $132 billion on the military this year, claims practically the entire sea, based on ancient maps and historical records.  In recent months it has been carrying out land reclamation activities on several outcroppings, which officials suspect will support military activity.  The Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan also have claims in the waters, believed to hold vast oil and gas reserves.

    Half of the Philippines armed forces are land-based, while about one quarter are sea-focused and the other quarter, air.  In a country whose military attention for decades was on insurgency and internal rebellion, making the shift to protecting sovereign rights has meant modernizing, and doing it quickly.  Two years ago, President Benigno Aquino announced a $1.7 billion boost for the military modernization program, spread out over five years.  

    Security Analyst Rommel Banlaoi heads the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research.  He said the recently signed military agreement between the U.S. and the Philippines will give a strong boost to maritime abilities.
     
    “Through joint and military exercises with the United State, the Philippines also expects transfer not only of skills but also of some technologies, particularly surveillance technologies,” said Banlaoi.
     
    The agreement covers increased U.S. troop visits, additional joint exercises, storage of American materiel and American-built facilities within Philippine bases.
     
    But Carl Baker with the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies says for now, the Philippines might do better to focus on policing the waters rather than securing them.  “It comes to be a matter of disputants claiming legal rights and the Navy isn’t the right organization to enforce those rights in territorial waters,” he said.
     
    The Philippines has placed an order for 10 coast guard vessels from Japan that it expects to receive by 2017.  
     
    This year’s joint naval exercises are taking place in waters just south of Scarborough Shoal, where in 2012 a months-long standoff between the Philippines and China ended with China taking control of the shoal.  The rich fishing spot lies about 225 kilometers west of the Philippines and some 400 kilometers from China.
     
    Officials say training in the vicinity of the shoal is routine. 

    You May Like

    US Watching as North Korea Opens Biggest Political Meeting in Decades

    As Workers' Party Congress opens, Washington anticipating possibility of another missile launch or nuclear test as top officials gather

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
        Next 
    by: So So from: US
    June 28, 2014 4:51 PM
    It may take another 10 years, a lot more money and a strong determination for the country to have something meaningful. A free-riding mentality will not get you there.

    by: art from: usa
    June 28, 2014 7:44 AM
    1- STOP buying CHINA products.
    2- STOP traveling to CHINA.
    3-STOP flying CHINA airline (even via connections)
    4- STOP doing business with CHINA
    5- STOP teaching or showing CHINA how to make a copy (this is what chinese will come back
    and bite you).
    6- STOP selling high tech goods to CHINA.
    7- STOP spying for CHINA.
    8- STOP making friends to CHINA.
    9- STOP inviting chinese to your countries (this is where they spy or engage in espionage)
    10- STOP watching chinese movies or TV series opera

    by: tienzern from: WA
    June 28, 2014 1:02 AM
    What if China and Russia held a join exercise in South China Sea? Is the US going to face 3 different conflicts in the world? 1) Ukrain, 2) Irag, 3) South China Sea. Is this is going to be a good thing for the US. Is the US still spend too much money in the military. Should we invest our money in the education, social wellfare, roads and bridges? Or we should continue our job as the world cops? Should we invest more in our manufacturing to take back our leadership in the manufacturing, or become the warlord of the world?

    by: AZcowboy from: az
    June 27, 2014 9:27 PM
    Have fun and disregard those USD rich Chinese for whatever they claim or complaint about. They have been sucking blood not only from American people but the whole world as well, and now they want to own the entire planet too? Yeah teach those fat boys to be realistic.
    In Response

    by: Ian from: USA
    June 28, 2014 10:11 PM
    Tien Zern,
    "The Chinese people has never stepped out of their boundary for more than 5000 years. Not now, not in the future."

    Do you know why ?
    Because China always redraws the boundary ever bigger and encroaching on other peoples' lands and seas so Chinese people can claim that they have never stepped out of their boundary .
    In Response

    by: Tien Zern from: Washington
    June 28, 2014 1:18 AM
    China people did not suck any American people's blood. It is the opposite. The Chinese people work very hard. Most of people there work more than 12 hours a day. They sweat and bleed to make stuff for the American people and the whole world. They didn't want to own the entire planet. That's the goal for the western capitalism to own the world. The Chinese people has never stepped out of their boundary for more than 5000 years. Not now, not in the future. They only want something that was theirs to be returned.

    by: Bow from: LA
    June 27, 2014 8:50 PM
    China used to have the 9 Dash Lie, now it's a 10 Dash Lie, regardless of how you look at it, it's still a Big Dash Lie! If Reagan was alive he would have said:"Xi Jin Ping,Tear down these Dash!".
    In Response

    by: moomoo from: Boston, USA
    June 29, 2014 5:36 PM
    I think President Reagan would have said : what is that ? This 9 Dash Lie isn't worth a rat's ass ! are you kidding me ?
    In Response

    by: moomoo from: Boston, USA
    June 29, 2014 5:29 PM
    9 Dash Lie ! I like that ! hope it'll be listed in English dictionary soon !
    In Response

    by: Tien Zern from: Washington
    June 28, 2014 1:32 AM
    Twist othe people's word from "Line" to "Lie" to score its political gain is shameful. There is nothing funny about.

    by: Sean Samuyao from: Philippines
    June 27, 2014 7:08 PM
    The rule of law must prevail so as to avert further bloody confrontation like what occurred in Vietnam a month ago. UNCLOS has the sole jurisdiction to mediate on this sea row and it's compelling that China in order to preserve harmony and peace in the Asian region must submit her map with substantiating proof of ownership for verification and authentication to the UN Court where Philippines had lodged her complaint against her. Simple as that but facts remains that China refused to file her counter claim despite UN order meaning then that she hasn't an iota of proof to back her claim
    In Response

    by: Tien Zern from: Washington
    June 28, 2014 1:43 AM
    Since when UNCLOS has become an organiztion to certify each country's maps that were published?? Did Philipino submit a new map right after they have stolen an island, (right next to the Taipin Island, the largest island in the South China Sea, both were occupy by the Taiwanese government) from Taiwan? Don't be rediculous! All this puppet organizations were created by the benefit of its own member. In the peace time they works great, everybody is happy. In the desputting matter, they have no real man power to perform, or become some sort of mouth pieces of influential countries.

    by: Andres Latogan from: Philippines
    June 27, 2014 6:49 PM
    Military show of force isn't the solution to China's aggression rather it may ignite the fuse of war for China acts today like a suicide bomber so to forestall any loss of life due to a gory war, decapitate China through her economy and voila, she deflates or burst like a pricked balloon. Hit China on her ballooned economy and she'll fall with a huge thud like a collapsing sumo wrestler.
    In Response

    by: MrLars from: Chicago
    July 01, 2014 2:23 PM
    Tien Zern, would you mind doing a spell check before you post on here please? Your comments are teeming with mispelled words and run on sentences. Thanks
    In Response

    by: Tien Zern from: Washington
    June 28, 2014 2:02 AM
    Regarless of the religion! People use the name of religion to attack others. Feel superior than others, just because they believe in something they believe. China has not pull anybody to help them to recover the land they have lost during those bad days, during those times the other countries came to steal her treasure, burn her house, split her land and kill her people. Those were the sad days. Now these days those bad things still come. The Diaoyu Island was handed over to Japan. The small pieces of islands were encourgaed to taken away from China, just to mug China to make her looks bad. Just because she was a communist turn capitalist, she doesn't deserve anything better. She should stay poor and dirty, right???!!! So let's "Pivot" to Asian, to weaken her. Let's again, slap her on the face, rape her in front of everybody. Isn't this what the world is doing????
    In Response

    by: sam from: Philippines iloilo city
    June 27, 2014 8:40 PM
    Philippines is an Catholic country, we will defend what God gave us. and We will increase military power for future invasion of China. Wether we will be in peace or not, china will invade. Because thats their future plan. So if you are scared, run, go to south america, its peaceful their. People like you are cowards since the beginning of time.

    by: Hawot from: US
    June 27, 2014 6:37 PM
    Since all lakes and river of China are polluted. They need East and South China Sea so they can survive. They cant use all their money in buying all kinds of Sea foods from other countries, thats why they need to conquer East ans South China Sea.










    In Response

    by: Hoodydoo from: US
    June 29, 2014 4:11 AM
    Well instead of building up there military... Maybe they should spend it on cleaning up there river, lakes, there plants to reduce pollution and make a better place...

    by: American from: Los Angeles
    June 27, 2014 5:21 PM
    Are the lessons of Vietnam,Iraq, and Afghanistan good enough for us?

    by: Tan from: USA
    June 27, 2014 2:29 PM
    The South China Sea has been an OPEN sea, where vital INTERNATIONAL shipping lanes crossing for hundreds of years. Suddenly, China claims the entire sea, violating international laws and threatening freedom of navigation and of overflight. Some Chinese sources even claim the Pacific (Okinawa, Guam, Hawaii...), and Indian Oceans! "(The Chinese officer said) You, the US, take Hawaii East and we, China, will take Hawaii West and the Indian Ocean.", USNavy Admiral Timothy J. Keating recalled.
    Comments page of 2
        Next 

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora