Canada, PH complete bilateral sail in West Philippine Sea

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 22) —The Philippines conducted another joint sail in the West Philippine Sea, this time with Canada, as Manila faces a new issue with Beijing involving damaged reefs.

"The joint sail is part of the Philippine Navy's regular engagements with its partners in the Philippines' maritime zones. Bravo Zulu to all the personnel of both ships and those who planned this activity," Lt. Col. Enrico Gil Ileto, the chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) public affairs office, said in a statement on Friday.

The bilateral activity completed on Thursday was conducted by Philippine Navy guided-missile frigate BRP Antonio Luna (FF151) and the Canadian Halifax-class frigate His Majesty's Canadian Ship (HMCS) Ottawa (FFH341).

The two ships met in the morning near the Malampaya Natural Gas Platform off Palawan and performed maneuvers for over two hours, the military said.

On Sept. 4, a similar bilateral sail was done by the Philippine and US navies.

The AFP said both events signified the shared commitment of the Philippines, United States, and Canada in promoting a rules-based international order in the West Philippine Sea and a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

On Saturday, the navy reported spotting damaged corals at Rozul Reef, also known as Iroquois Reef. The AFP said the damage was discovered during an initial assessment after navy personnel drove away a Chinese vessel from the area in July.

READ: PH military suspects China of harvesting corals in Rozul Reef

In response, China said the accusations "have no factual basis" and urged the Philippines "to stop creating political drama from fiction."

READ: 'Political drama from fiction': China denies damaging coral reefs in West PH Sea

On Sept. 14, the HMCS Ottawa arrived in the country in what officials said was a demonstration of Canada's support for a rules-based international order and the Philippines' win against China before an arbitral tribunal created under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Canada has condemned China's "dangerous and provacative" actions in the West Philippine Sea and has called on Beijing to respect international law.

READ: Canadian warship arrives in PH for goodwill visit; Ottawa offers 'dark vessel detection' satellite technology

At the beginning of the month, the US Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class guided missile-destroyer USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114) also visited the country for bilateral sails in the WPS with Filipino counterparts.

READ: PH, US conduct bilateral sail in West Philippine Sea