China Militarization in WPS will GROW as Ph helps China block US by Removing VFA-Analyst


US warship sails near Chinese claimed islands in South China Sea: report


WASHINGTON:  A US Navy destroyer carried out a “freedom of navigation” operation on Friday, coming within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island built by China in the South China Sea, US officials told Reuters, a move likely to anger Beijing.

Friday’s operation was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing’s efforts to limit “freedom of navigation” in the strategic waters. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the USS Mustin traveled close to Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands and carried out maneuvering operations. China has territorial disputes with its neighbors over the area. Neither China’s Foreign nor Defense Ministries immediately responded to a request for comment.

In the past, Beijing has reacted angrily to such moves, saying they are provocative. The US military has a longstanding position that its operations are carried out throughout the world, including in areas claimed by allies, and they are separate from political considerations. However, the latest operation, the first since January, comes just a day after US President Donald Trump lit a slow-burning fuse when he signed a presidential memorandum that will target up to $60 billion in Chinese goods with tariffs, but only after a 30-day consultation period that starts once a list is published. The United States has criticised China’s construction of islands and build-up of military facilities in the sea, and is concerned they could be used to restrict free nautical movement.

China’s claims in the South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes each year, are contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. The US military put countering China and Russia at the center of a new national defence strategy recently unveiled.

China’s navy will carry out combat drills in the South China Sea, the military’s official newspaper said on Friday, describing the move as part of regular annual exercises. Taiwan’s defense ministry said this week it had shadowed a Chinese aircraft carrier group traversing the Taiwan Strait in a southwesterly direction – meaning into the disputed South China Sea – in what Taiwan judged to be a drill.

The United States has been pushing allies to carry out “freedom of navigation” operations as well.

Earlier this year, Britain said one of its warships would pass through the South China Sea to assert “freedom-of-navigation” rights.


Source: https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/03/23/us-warship-sails-near-chinese-claimed-islands-in-south-china-sea-report/


Scrapping VFA may put at risk PH’s anti-terror, defense pacts–DFA


MANILA, Philippines — Two weeks after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to abrogate the two-decade-old military agreement with the United States, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. warned of possible repercussions on the Philippines’ defense and counterterrorism efforts should the government terminates the pact.

Facing senators in a hearing into the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Locsin said absence of the agreement could result in the “severe curtailment” of the United States’ defense obligations, counterterrorism support and military assistance to the Philippines.



DFA drafts notice of VFA termination: Foreign Affairs Sec. Teodoro Locsin Jr. tells senators during a public hearing on the Philippines – United States (US) Mutual Defense Treaty Thursday, February 6, 2020 that he drafted a notice of the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) but has yet to send it to the US pending the direct instruction of President Rodrigo Duterte. (Voltaire F Domingo/Senate PRIB)

MANILA, Philippines — Two weeks after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to abrogate the two-decade-old military agreement with the United States, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. warned of possible repercussions on the Philippines’ defense and counterterrorism efforts should the government terminates the pact.

Facing senators in a hearing into the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Locsin said absence of the agreement could result in the “severe curtailment” of the United States’ defense obligations, counterterrorism support and military assistance to the Philippines.

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“The absence of a VFA would result into a severe curtailment of defense engagement of the Philippines and the cancellation of cooperative defense activities in the Philippines,” he said.

Locsin said the VFA provides the legal framework for the presence of US forces in the country.

“The US will not operate without the VFA,” he added.


US commitment under MDT

Locsin said the VFA is a “substance” that makes the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) effective.

“An armed attack on the Armed Forces of the Philippines, including in the South China Sea, would trigger the MDT,” he said.

“This is an unequivocal commitment that have been conveyed mainly verbally in the past, it is now in writing…The sinking of a Philippine vessel triggers an American response,” he added.

With this in mind, the foreign affairs chief said the termination of the VFA “will very likely dilute the commitment of the US under the MDT.

“The MDT is a deterrent to any attack from any power,” he added.

Locsin said the VFA “allows the US to provide a total package approach on defense articles that would be compatible with equipment assets and systems that are already in place.”


Locsin said the US has given the Philippines a total of US$ 554.55 million in security assistance and security cooperation programs from 2016 to 2019.

“This includes US$267.75 million in foreign military financing for the procurement of defense articles for the same period. In addition, under the DFA [Department of Foreign Affairs], the Philippines is able to receive after sale servicing in the form of maintenance packages that increase the articles’ value and lifespan,” he said.

He added that the US plans to grant the AFP about US$ 200 million in aircraft, training, equipment and construction in 2020 and in 2021, and more than US$ 45 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF).

“Without the VFA, the US Departments of State and Defense will be hard put to get funds from the U.S. Congress for FMF and other defense assistance programs to the Philippines,” he added.

Locsin further pointed out that the VFA promotes interoperability between the Philippine forces and law enforcement agencies and their counterparts in the US.

He said the termination of the VFA might impact joint activities between the militaries and law enforcement agencies of both countries set for 2020, which the Philippine military and law enforcement agencies need to “enhance their capabilities in countering threats to national security.”

“There are some 390 activities lined up for this year,” he said.


Vital in countering security threats

“The VFA allows for continued support for addressing non-traditional security threats. Through the VFA, US forces have been instrumental in assisting the Philippines to combat non-traditional security threats such as trafficking in persons, cyber attacks, terrorism and illegal narcotics through training, joint exercises and exchange visits,” he said.

“The US has also provided support for humanitarian assistance and disaster response as well as search and rescue operations,” he added.

The foreign affairs chief said assistance given by the United States on counterterrorism, especially on intelligence and capability building, “have proven to be vital.”


Read more: https://globalnation.inquirer.net/184926/scrapping-vfa-may-put-at-risk-phs-anti-terror-defense-pacts-dfa#ixzz6DWaGSN2r Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook


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Duterte orders formal notification of VFA termination to US

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to transmit the Philippines’ formal notification to the United States (US) with regard to its termination of the 22-year-old Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Malacañang announced on Friday.




The President’s order came a day after Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. warned that the revocation of the VFA might have a “negative” impact on the Philippines.

“PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) is instructing (Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to tell (Locsin) to send the notice of termination to the US government,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.


Source: https://www.canadianinquirer.net/2020/02/08/duterte-orders-formal-notification-of-vfa-termination-to-us/


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Scarborough Shoal last 'piece' of China's militarization in disputed sea: analyst


MANILA - The Philippines' termination of its Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the US might pave the way for Beijing to complete its military bases in the disputed South China Sea, a maritime expert said Monday.

Aside from providing financial assistance and military training, the VFA also deterred the transformation of Scarborough Shoal into an artificial island, according to Jay Batongbacal, director of the UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea.

IN NUMBERS: How beneficial is VFA to the Philippines?

China mobilized forces for the shoal's reclamation just before the promulgation of the arbitration ruling in 2016, which invalidated Beijing's sweeping claims in the disputed sea, Batongbacal said.

"That has also been acknowledged by (Defense) Secretary (Delfin) Lorenzana," he told ANC's Early Edition.

"Because there’s VFA, the Americans were able to station 18 warthogs. After Balikatan exercises they stayed on for a while, then these were replaced by FA-18s for a few months."

"Scarborough Shoal is the only piece left in the puzzle that they’re trying to build. They can now completely exclude other countries from the South China Sea militarily if they're able to put into place all of these military bases."

Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio earlier warned that China would only agree to a code of conduct in the South China Sea after it has built an air and naval base on Scarborough Shoal.


China eyes sea code after building Scarborough military base: ex-justice Carpio

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered officials to notify the US about the VFA's termination, his spokesman earlier said. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, however, denied such order.


Philippines to send VFA termination notice to US; Duterte to talk to Trump'No contradiction' among officials, Panelo insists amid differing statements on VFA

"This tells us really that this move is completely unplanned and undiscussed even though it has been thought of for a long time," Batongbacal said.

"The US-PH alliance has been a problem to China which is President Duterte’s friend, as he calls it."

The US "can't afford to lose the Philippines but they can adjust" their positions in other countries, Batongbacal said.

"If the Philippines doesn’t want the Americans in this region, they will simply adjust to that. After all, they have their own interest to protect," he said.

The Philippines can and should enter into VFAs with other countries but terminating its pact with the US may raise question in its credibility, Batongbacal added.

"We should also have credibility and consistency in our policies," he said.


Source: https://news.abs-cbn.com/spotlight/02/10/20/scarborough-shoal-last-piece-of-chinas-militarization-in-disputed-sea-analyst?fbclid=IwAR1ejwYzl1N-9yoG4JVU99BfxN2TgcJJneLq7T2dWmQ6Ngmbb7o3FZDyBzQ


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