“The Philippine government must explore entering into an agreement and alliance with the QUAD countries in protecting its rights in the West Philippine Sea against China’s aggression”, said Atty Alex Lacson, a Senatorial candidate of the Kapatiran Party, and part of the Tropang Leni-Kiko.
“We should even explore allowing the QUAD countries to jointly hold post in the Pag-asa Islands and patrol in the West PhilippineSea. This would strengthen Philippines’ military presence in the area”, added Lacson.
Initiated in 2007, the QUAD, or Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, is a strategic dialogue between the United States, India, Japan and Australia, and was intended to counter China’s rising influence in the region.
The Quad countries often conduct joint military exercises of an unprecedented scale, titled Exercise Malabar. The diplomatic and military arrangement was widely viewed as a response to increased Chinese economic and military power.
The Quad ceased following the withdrawal of Australia during Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s tenure, although Japan, India, and the United States continued to hold joint naval exercises under Malabar.
During the 2017 ASEAN Summits in Manila, all four member countries agreed to revive the quadrilateral alliance in order to counter China militarily and diplomatically in the South China Sea.
Atty Alex Lacson said that the QUAD is aligned with the Philippines’ interests in the West Philippine Sea because all four member countries – Australia, India, Japan and the US – have officially rejected China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea
Lacson also pushed for an immediate review and renegotiation of the decades-old RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty that guarantees that they will both provide military aid to each other in case their metropolitan areas or their territories in the Pacific are attacked by a foreign force.
A joint patrol in the West Philippine Sea between the US and Philippines should be considered, as was earlier suggested by former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, added Lacson
Alex Lacson also encourages the Philippine government to push for the ASEAN Code of Conduct, and increased diplomatic relations with our ASEAN partners to push China to agree to the Code.
Last Wednesday, China demanded that the Philippines remove BRP Sierra Madre, a World War II-era warship which has been grounded on Ayungin Shoal since 1999, saying it should “honor its commitment.” Philippine officials denied the existence of such agreement.
A few days ago, three Chinese maritime militia blocked and fired water cannon at Philippine vessels on its way to deliver supplies to troops on board BRP Sierra Madre. Several nations, including the United States, expressed support for the Philippines and condemned China’s actions.