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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        13  June 2011

Spratly issue to surface in US talks

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The disputed Spratly group of islands in the West Philippine or South China Sea would be among the top agenda in the forthcoming RP-US Mutual Defense Board (MDB) annual meeting among top military officials of the two countries.

“Definitely, definitely [that will be tackled] because of the recent statements [from the Philippines, China and Vietnam] and developments that we’ve been hearing and seeing,” Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff, Gen. Eduardo Oban Jr., said on Sunday.

He said that he would also take the opportunity to ask his United States counterpart to help the Armed Forces in the development of a “national coast system” that would enable the military to adequately monitor the Philippine coastline and protect its maritime resources.

Oban added that P11.9 billion had been allocated for the development of a “coast watch west” that covers, among others, the Spratlys. Part of that will also include the acquisition from the US Coast Guard of a large and modern Hamilton-class cutter patrol craft that is due to arrive in August.

“We would have coast watch stations there [in the West Philippine Sea], coast watch center. We would have radars and communication equipment there, basically that’s for detection and monitoring,” he said.

The Armed Forces chief stressed though that the development of a coast watch system in the West Philippine Sea has long been planned even before the series of Chinese incursions on Philippine territories. It is also not a sign that the Philippines is engaging China in an arms race.

“We would like to ask their [US] support in the development of the national coast system. What we need is not modernization, this is not an arms race. We were just putting the baseline development that any self-respecting nation should have, much more for the Philippines, which is a maritime nation,” Oban said.

This year’s MDB meeting is tentatively set in August in Hawaii. Last year, it was held at the Armed Forces headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City (Metro Manila).


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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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