ARMED Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Romeo Brawner has met with United States military officials to discuss the country’s role in maintaining peace in the Indo-Pacific region.
AFP Public Affairs Office chief Lt. Col. Enrico Gil Ileto said on Saturday that the meeting transpired Friday during the courtesy call involving Brawner and 19 delegates of the US Capstone Pacific 23-4 program.
Capstone is a five-week doctrinal course for new generals and flag officers.
The American delegation was led by Harry Harris, retired admiral, former commander of the US Pacific Command and former US ambassador to South Korea.
“The interaction was vital in giving the delegates first-hand insights into the national defense and security objectives of the AFP and its position in the promotion of a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” said Ileto.
Ileto said that Brawner briefed the Americans on the AFP modernization program, international defense and security engagements, takeaways from Philippine-US exercises and trainings, as well as policies pertaining to the West Philippine Sea.
Brawner added that part of AFP’s modernization is actively pursuing international defense and security engagements with Philippine allies.
Early this year, Manila granted Washington expanded access to its military bases, a move seen as a deterrent to any plan of China to reclaim Taiwan by force.
Meanwhile, Assistant Minority Leader and Gabriela Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas expressed concern over a proposal for joint military exercises between the Philippines and China, noting it could be detrimental to regional peace and security.
“Given the ongoing territorial disputes and the history of tensions in the region, we cannot allow these proposed military exercises to prosper,” Brosas said.
“Engaging in joint military exercises with China could compromise our country’s sovereignty and perpetuate the unequal power dynamics in the region,” she added.
Brosas cited the unresolved territorial dispute between the Philippines and China.
“Last July 12, the Chinese Embassy in Manila downplayed our landmark arbitral win by declaring the ruling on the West Philippine Sea as ‘illegal, null, and void.’ The fact that the Marcos’ (President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.) administration is still considering entering joint military exercises with China despite this is an outright disrespect toward the Filipino people,” Brosas said.
“We must not forget that China’s aggressive actions in the West Philippine Sea continue to threaten the livelihood and security of our fisherfolk and coastal communities. Their illegal occupation and militarization of artificial islands in our exclusive economic zone have caused environmental degradation and displacement of our fellow Filipinos,” she added.
Brosas said Marcos should reject China’s proposal.
“We must never compromise our sovereignty and national security for the sake of appeasing foreign powers. We call on President Marcos Jr. to prioritize the interests of the Filipino people and firmly reject China’s proposal for joint military exercises,” she added.
Source : The Manila Times