Presence of US Poseidon plane in West Philippine Sea inflames tensions


The presence last August 22 of a P-8 Poseidon aircraft, a maritime surveillance aircraft of the US Navy, in the West Philippine Sea while Philippine Coast Guard ship accompanying a supply mission was confronted by a Chinese Coast Guard vessel, clearly exposes how US military presence and intervention in the West Philippine Sea inflames armed tensions.

The Philippine defense secretary himself said that the presence of the US Poseidon plane was “uncoordinated.” However, despite having no knowledge of the US operations in clear violation of the country’s exclusive rights, Sec. Gilbert Teodoro was quick to defend the US by claiming they were “providing freedom of navigation.”

Facing questions by the international media, the US State Department arrogantly refused to comment on the sightings, finding no reason to explain itself why it flew a surveillance plane above the Philippine seas during that time.

In addition to the presence of the US Poseidon surveillance aircraft, US warships including the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, one of the biggest US war vessels with at least 5,000 troops and capable of carrying 75 war planes, have maintained presence in the Philippine. The presence of US military forces and “interoperated” Australian and AFP troops further surged over the past weeks in line with the conduct of maritime war games in Palawan.

Using the guise of “freedom of navigation,” the US military continues to heighten its armed presence in the Philippine seas, which further inflames tensions and seeks to provoke a hostile response from China. With US military presence in the Philippine seas, maritime operations of the Philippine armed forces, including routine supply missions, can easily be construed as forming part of US Indo-Pacific strategy of encircling and raising armed tensions with China.

Acting subserviently to the US, the Philippine government and military forces continue to allow and facilitate increasing US military presence, including giving the US access to hundreds of hectares of land to construct military bases and facilities, under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). The subservience of the Marcos government to the US continues to pull the country into the increasingly tense inter-imperialist conflict between the US and China.

The demand for the demilitarization of the Philippine seas and exclusive economic zone must be urgently pushed in order to preempt any further escalation of armed tensions.

The Filipino people must continue to assert Philippine sovereignty and denounce China’s transgressions into the Philippine maritime territory and exclusive economic zone, and demand the pullout of Chinese military troops and dismantling of military facilities in the area.

At the same time, the Filipino people must give equal weight, if not even more push, to the demand for the withdrawal of all US military forces, including all war vessels, as well as the dismantling of all US military bases and facilities the country.

Presence of US Poseidon plane in West Philippine Sea inflames tensions