US not dictating on Philippines on WPS initiatives –AFP

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday denied the supposed influence of the United States (US) on its efforts for transparency about China’s actions in the West Philippine Sea.

AFP spokesperson Colonel Medel Aguilar said it was an “insult” to assume that US was dictating the actions of the Philippines.

“Tayo po ay isang malayang bansa at meron tayong foreign policy na independente. So sa akin, parang malaking insulto iyon. Sinasabi nila na dinidiktahan tayo ng ibang bansa sa ating ginagawa,” Aguilar said on Thursday’s Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon public briefing.

(We are a sovereign country and we have an independent foreign policy. So for me, it appears to be a big insult. They were saying that other countries are dictating on the Philippines’ actions.)

Asked if the US is welcome to join the AFP’s resupply missions, Aguilar said “our rotation and resupply mission is for us to undertake.

“It is for our country to make sure that we fulfill our responsibility being bestowed by the sovereign rights and jurisdiction to ensure that we are able to harvest, or to benefit from the resources therein,” he said.

“We have to make sure that environmental protection programs are being implemented and at the same time we also have to ensure the safety of those who navigate in that particular area. This is our obligation,” he added.

The Chinese foreign ministry earlier said the US does not have the right to get involved in problems between China and the Philippines.

“The US is not party to the South China Sea issue, it has no right to get involved in a problem between China and the Philippines,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said.

“The US promise of defending the Philippines must not hurt China’s sovereignty and maritime interests in the South China Sea, and it also must not enable and encourage the illegal claims of the Philippines,” Mao said.

Following the October 22 collision of Chinese and Philippine vessels in the WPS, US President Joe Biden said US’ commitment to Philippines defense remains “iron-clad,” after accusing China of acting “dangerously and unlawfully” in the South China Sea.

“Any attack on the Filipino aircraft, vessels, or armed forces will invoke…our Mutual Defense Treaty with the Philippines,” Biden said.

The Philippines and the US recently updated the guidelines for their 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty. The guidelines now specifically mention that mutual defense commitments would be invoked if there were an armed attack on either country “anywhere in the South China Sea.—LDF, GMA Integrated News

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