PH joint patrols with US, Australia expected by Q3 — envoy

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 8) — The possible joint patrols to be conducted by the Philippines with the United States and Australia in the South China Sea may happen by the third quarter of 2023, Philippine Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez said on Monday.

“We are already… continuing discussions on this joint patrol with the United States and I think Australia also is to be coming in. A guesstimate would be no later than the third quarter of this year we should have that in place,” he told CNN Philippines’ The Source.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and US President Joe Biden said in a recent statement that they are looking forward to the trilateral cooperation with other countries, like Australia, to ensure regional security.

“The leaders welcome cooperation with partners that share the United States’ and the Philippines’ commitment to international law and mutual respect,” the statement read.

In February, Australia confirmed it is holding talks on possible joint patrols in the West Philippine Sea, a part of the South China Sea that China claims.

Australia was among the nations that supported the Philippines following the incident early this year that involved a Chinese vessel pointing a military-grade laser at a Philippine Coast Guard ship near Ayungin Shoal.

Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said the two countries had already conducted joint maritime patrols in the past, particularly in the Celebes Sea and the Sulu Sea.

Japan also expressed support for the Philippines.

“Japan is now a strong partner of the Philippines and we would like to see engagements with them also on the defense side,” Romualdez said.

The Japanese Embassy in Manila clarified last week that there are no discussions yet on possible joint patrols in the South China Sea among Japan, the Philippines, US, and Australia.