WPS conflict not cold war but tension that can be resolved peacefully, says WESCOM chief

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 13) — The dispute in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) is not a cold war but rather a geopolitcal tension that can be resolved peacefully, said the chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' Western Command (WESCOM).

“I think it’s just tension. Something that we can address peacefully.” Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos told CNN Philippines Politics As Usual on Wednesday, when asked f he thinks the WPS situation has become a cold war.

Carlos said the solution to the disputed waters is a "whole-of-nation approach."

“Hindi nga lang military alone ang solution," he stressed. "It has to be whole-of-nation approach. ‘Di pa naman cold war ‘yan. It’s something we can resolve peacefully.”

[Translation: The solution is not military alone. It has to be whole of nation approach. It's not yet a cold war. It's something we can resolve peacefully.]

The Philippines successfully conducted a new resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre in the Ayungin Shoal on Sept. 8, but not without another attempt by China to block the trip.

The operation conducted by WESCOM and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) occurred a little over a month since China Coast Guard (CCG) used water cannons on Philippine vessels.

Carlos recalled that the CCG attempted to separate the resupply boats that were being assisted by the PCG vessels.

“It’s the same actions from the Chinese," he said. "The only difference is the water cannon, but it’s the same harassment, shadowing, dangerous maneuvers, trying to cut off the resupply boats from the PCG vessel escort team."

The WESCOM chief said they monitored at least four CCG vessels and 11 Chinese militia vessels “taking part in the harassment and blocking operations.”

But he emphasized that no matter what happens, it is the marine troops’ obligation to ensure that the BRP Sierra Madre “continues to fly the Philippine flag.”

“The marching orders of the president [are] very clear," Carlos said. "We still stay there, and so, our effort is now to ensure that the Philippine flag continues to fly in that platform."