Lorenzana says Duterte ordered military not to join other countries' drills in South China Sea
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the military not to join other countries' naval exercises in the South China Sea.
"President Duterte has a standing order to us, to me that we should not involve ourselves in naval exercises in the South China Sea except our national waters , the 12 mile distance from our shores so really we cannot do that. We cannot exercise with them in the South China Sea," Lorenzana said during a virtual press conference on Monday.
Lorenzana expressed hope that countries involved in the naval exercises in South China Sea will "exercise prudence" to prevent the escalation of tension in the disputed waters.
"Will it increase the tension in the area? Definitely, if one country's action is considered as belligerent by another, tension will normally rise," he said.
"I hope that all the parties in this exercise will have, will work on their actions there, to exercise prudence and carefulness so that there will be no miscalculations that could further increase the tension," he added.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lt.Gen. Gilbert Gapay, the new head of the military, said as long as everybody would abide on the convention of the laws of the sea, all tensions will be addressed peacefully.
"On the part of the Armed Forces, we are still you know covered (by the) Code of Conduct, rules of engagement and as long as everybody there would abide by the law particularly the on convention on laws of the sea and... Code of Conduct of all countries there in West Philippine Sea, I guess we would address all tensions, or issues peacefully... that is also what we intend to do in the Armed Forces of the Philippines," he said. Robina Asido/DMS