(MENAFN- Asia Times) MANILA – As China-Philippine tensions escalate over disputed features in the South China Sea, the United States and its regional allies are lending Manila a firm helping hand in asserting its claims.
“In the role of the United States in those resupplies, they were providing freedom of navigation, they were conducting freedom of navigation operations on their own uncoordinated with us,” said Philippine Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, referring to recent news of thePentagon's operational support during the Philippines' latest resupply mission to the contested Second Thomas Shoal.
Last week, the Philippines conducted a
follow-up resupply mission to the contested shoal by delivering basic goods to its marine detachment stationed on the grounded BRP Sierra Madre.
Reports said that aNavy P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance aircraft was hovering just over the horizon in a clear show of support for the Philippines. The two long-time allies share a mutual defense treaty.
“Well, they (US) might have coordinated it. But that's below my level of coordination if ever,” the Philippine defense chief added, refusing to provide more details on top-level coordination with theduring the latest Philippine resupply mission.
Earlier, both theState Department and Pentagon reiterated their mutual defense treaty (MDT) commitment to aid Philippine forces in the event of skirmishes with China in the South China Sea.
But theisn't the only major ally providing support. Last week, Australia, which has a staforces of agreement with the Southeast Asian nation, conducted a historic Combined AmphibiAssault Exercise with the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Zambales, which faces the South China Sea.
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