For the First Time Ever, the Philippines, U.S., and Japan to Conduct Joint Coast Guard Drills
The coast guards of the United States, Japan, and the Philippines will be conducting trilateral maritime exercises in the West Philippine Sea from June 1 to 7, 2023. This marks the first time in history that the three agencies will work together.
On Monday, May 29, Philippine Coast Guard Spokesman Armand Balilo confirmed that Mariveles, Bataan was going to be the venue for the exercises. The drills were said to be brought up by the United States and Japan. Australia will also be joining the group as an observer. Balilo describes it as a "usual routine" for the agencies.
There will be four Philippine vessels that will be utilized for the program. Meanwhile, the United States and Japan will provide one vessel each. The main focus of the drill is to improve search and rescue collaboration, as well as law enforcement during a time of growing tensions in the region. Counter-piracy simulations and interception exercises with weapon-carrying vessels are said to be part of the agreement, as well.
Vice Admiral Punzalan Jr., on the other hand, added in a statement that: “The U.S. Coast Guard and Japan Coast Guard have been assisting us in our human resource development program, particularly in law enforcement training. This is a good opportunity to thank and show them what our personnel learned from their programs.”
It was reported in February that the U.S. and Japan had talked to Philippine officials about more maritime exercises down the line. This came around the same time when Manila and China got into a verbal scuffle, where the latter had been accused of aggressive activities in the area.
During President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.'s term, the Philippines pivoted from China to its old ally in the U.S. Recently, the largest Balitakan Exercise ever was held in the country, too. Militarization in the region has been an issue for the Philippines for years. China has long maintained its neutral and legal stance about the disputed West Philippine Sea.
U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Loss Carlson, Embassy of Japan’s Deputy Chief of Mission and Minister Kenichi Matsuda, Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, Department of Transporation Secretary Jaime Bautista, and Japan International Cooperation Agency Chief Representative in the Philippines Takema Sakamoto will be welcoming the United States and Japan Coast Guards in Manila this coming Thursday.