Filipino Navy Seals stand guard outside the Navy ship BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF-15) during the Philippine Navy showcase of new and upcoming assets at the port in Manila, Philippines, 17 December 2014. EPA/RITCHIE B. TONGO/FILE

US, Philippine ships sail together for 1st time in disputed waters

Manila, Sep 5 (EFE).- American and Philippine navy ships sailed together for the first time in waters of the South China Sea near the western Philippine coast, where Manila and Beijing dispute the sovereignty of various islands.

A US Navy handout shows aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Airman Jennifer L. Confer, from Buffalo, N.Y., directing a V-22 Osprey as it lifts off from the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48), off the coast of the Philippines, 22 November 2013, as it assists in Typhoon Haiyan recovery efforts. EFE-EPA/MCC Allen Onstott / U.S. Navy HANDOUT Released/FILE

“Ships of the Philippine and United States Navy carried out joint navigations Monday in the West Philippine Sea (as Manila calls the South China Sea in Philippine territorial waters),” Philippine Navy Spokesman Captain Benjo Negranza told EFE on Tuesday.

The rehearsal between Washington and Manila comes at a time of high tension between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea, which Beijing claims almost in its entirety. Manila has denounced the harassment of several vessels by Chinese ships on the western coast of Palawan, southwest of the Philippine archipelago.

The American destroyer US Navy Alrleigh and the Philippine frigate BRP Jose Rizal sailed together in these waters Monday, where they also carried out “approach maneuvers to other vessels,” Negranza said.

“This trial seeks to provide an opportunity for the Philippine Navy and the US Indo-Pacific Navy to test and refine existing maritime doctrine and demonstrate their defense capabilities in line with the shared commitment to maintaining peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region,” the Philippine Navy published in a statement on social media.

Since coming to power last year, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has relied on Washington in his dispute with China and has allowed the US to significantly increase its military activity in the archipelago, where it already has access. to nine military bases.

China and the Philippines maintain a conflict over the sovereignty of several islands and atolls in the South China Sea. These territories are mostly less than 200 miles from the western Philippine coast, a limit established by the United Nations to determine the maritime sovereignty of the states in a convention that China acceded to in 1996.

In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague determined that China’s claim to the disputed islands “has no legal basis,” ruling in favor of Manila, a decision that Beijing refuses to abide by. EFE