Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Manila will not follow a new maritime law enacted by China that requires certain types of foreign vessels to report themselves when entering Beijing’s claimed territorial waters in the South China Sea.
China’s new law came into effect at the beginning of September. Soon after, the US sailed a warship within 12 miles of a Chinese-controlled reef in the South China Sea, ignoring the law.
Lorenzana vowed manilia would not abide by the law during an event in Washington last week commemorating the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the US and the Philippines. “Our stand on that is we do not honor those laws by the Chinese within the West Philippine Sea because we consider that we have the sovereign right within this waters. So we will not recognize this law of the Chinese,” he said, according to Al Jazeera.
China and the Philippines have overlapping claims in the South China Sea, and the US backs Manila in the dispute. US officials frequently remind China that the MDT applies to the South China Sea.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has been hesitant to pick a side between the US and China, but Manila is looking for more military assistance from Washington. While in Washington, Lorenzana was lobbying for advanced weaponry and more aid.
Lorenzana said the US and the Philippines need to review their military alliance, including the MDT. He questioned US commitment to the Philippines and said other countries receive more aid from Washington.
“Non-treaty allies … have been receiving billion-dollar military aid and advanced weapons systems from the US. Perhaps, a longtime ally like the Philippines, facing major adversaries in Asia, deserves as much, if not more, assistance and commitment,” he said.
With the US so focused on countering China, Manila is in a good position to squeeze some more military aid out of Washington.