Estrada says proposal for joint patrols in WPS with foreign allies must be studied

(INQUIRER) MANILA, Philippines — Senator Jinggoy Estrada said proposals for West Philippine Sea joint patrols with foreign allies must be “studied” intricately as it could send wrong signals to China.

Estrada, who currently sits as the chairperson of the Senate’s committee on national defense and security, peace, unification, and reconciliation, admitted that he does not know what the implication of the joint patrols would be.

“I do not know what the implications will be if there is a joint patrol with the ships of Australia, the United States, and our allies. I do not know the reaction China will make. [We don’t know yet]. That might be tantamount to a war. We have to study it [very carefully],” said Estrada in a mix of English and Filipino in an interview over DWIZ on Saturday.

Several experts earlier recommended that the next resupply mission to BRP Sierra Madre be carried out during joint patrols with foreign allies to ensure that no attacks will be made against Philippine Coast Guard vessels.

This was after China blocked and fired water cannons on coast guard ships in Ayungin Shoal on August 5.

Meanwhile, Senator Francis Escudero, in a separate interview over DWIZ on Saturday, said he is in favor of the proposal as long as it does not further aggravate the situation.

“Pabor ako, basta ang epekto ay deterrence. Ibig sabihin ay mapipigilan ang China sa mga dati nilang ginagawa tulad ng pag-water cannon. Ipagdasal natin na hindi nito lalong painitin pa [ang sitwasyon]. Baka ang magdeklara ng kaguluhan at giyera ay ibang bansang nadamay,” he said.

(I am in favor as long as the effect is deterrence. This means that China will be prevented from doing what they used to do like using water cannons. Let’s pray that it doesn’t aggravate the situation. Our allies who may be affected might declare chaos and war.)

Escudero said terms and rules of engagements must be clear if joint patrols will be conducted with foreign allies.

“The objective is to not make the situation worse without giving up our right, power, and ownership in that territory,” he said in Filipino.