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Philippines, US to expand maritime cooperation but not limited to joint patrols

WASHINGTON —The Philippines and the United States will expand cooperation on maritime security through but not limited to joint patrols.

In a fact sheet released by the White House, it was stated that under deepening interoperability, the goal is to expand cooperation on maritime security and maritime domain awareness, including through the continued conduct of combined maritime activities, including but not limited to joint patrol.

In March, the Philippine government said it is in the process of "crafting guidelines" on maritime activities, including joint patrols with allies.

Officials earlier said there have been talks with the US and Australia about future joint patrols in the South China Sea, where China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan have overlapping claims.

Meanwhile, cooperation under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) should also be fortified to strengthen interoperability, including through infrastructure improvements; enhanced joint use of facilities; advancement of additional maritime security, maritime domain awareness, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities; and rotational US access to Agreed Locations.

Both countries also emphasized the need to reaffirm commitment to the Mutual Defense Treaty to address both current and emerging threats.

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. earlier said the decades-old treaty should evolve amid the developing security situation in the region.—LDF, GMA Integrated News