MANILA: The Philippines and US held their third joint patrol in the South China Sea in less than three months as the defense partners bolster their interoperability amid tensions with Beijing.
The Philippines’ and US navies on Friday conducted “maritime cooperative activity” where allied forces sailed together and participated in advanced planning and maritime communication operations, the US Navy said in a statement.
Combat and patrol ships as well as helicopters were deployed for the exercise, it added.
The activity reflects the growing military engagements between the Philippines and US under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who is seeking to assert Manila’s claims in the South China Sea, where Beijing has laid sweeping claims. Tensions flared last year as ships from the Philippines and China faced off in the disputed waters.
The allies held similar maritime exercises early this year and in late November, which marked the resumption of their joint patrols after they were suspended during the presidency of Rodrigo Duterte in 2016.
“The continuous maritime cooperative activity manifests the enduring partnership between the Philippines and the US militaries,” Philippine military chief General Romeo Brawner Jr. said on Friday.