By Billy Begas
Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez on Wednesday urged the United States to conduct more frequent freedom of navigation (FON) operations in the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.
Rodriguez said these could deter further Chinese incursions in the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and threats to other US allies in the region.
“They should criss-cross that area more often to challenge China’s claim over most of the South China Sea, including international waters and a large part of the Philippine EEZ,” Rodriguez said.
Based on report a carrier strike group of the US Navy entered the South China Sea last April 4, the second in three months.
This happened while the Philippines is protesting the presence of hundreds of Chinese vessels in Juan Felipe Reef, which is within the Philippine 200-mile EEZ.
“That would also show the readiness of the United States to come to the aid of the Philippines in case of conflict as provided under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty between the two countries,” the solon added.
Rodriguez also called for stronger and more explicit statements on the West Philippine Sea issue on the part of the US.
“Professions of support for Manila in very general language no longer suffice and are just being ignored by the party to which they are directed. There has to be a more direct statement or a warning that the other party will understand,” Rodriguez pointed out.