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Why the World is weaponizing Philippines?

Why world is weaponizing Philippines

Introduction

The Philippines is taking bold steps to bolster its military capabilities in response to China’s aggressive actions in the South China Sea, here, the parallels can be drawn to historical instances where nations faced similar challenges. For example, during the Cold War, Finland, a neutral country bordering the Soviet Union, implemented a strategy known as “Finlandization” to navigate geopolitical pressures. Despite being situated between two superpowers, Finland maintained its independence by adopting a policy of pragmatic diplomacy, balancing between East and West. Similarly, the Philippines’ strategic alliances with the United States and Japan echo Finland’s approach, stressing the importance of forging partnerships to safeguard sovereignty within regional power dynamics. Just as Finland sought to protect its autonomy through strategic alignments, the Philippines is asserting its interests in the South China Sea while cultivating alliances to reinforce its position on the global stage.

China’s Bullying Tactics

In the wake of China’s persistent attempts to assert dominance over the South China Sea and encroach upon the Philippines’ territorial waters, tensions in the region have reached at new heights. Recent clashes between Chinese and Filipino vessels pinpoints the escalating maritime disputes, potentially drawing in the United States, which is a long-standing ally of the Philippines.

China’s strategy of employing “gray zone” tactics, aimed at coercively altering the status quo without triggering a military response, has targeted the Philippines in particular. Over the past nine months, Filipino vessels have encountered Chinese military-grade lasers and water cannons, obstructing their access to the disputed Spratly Islands.

In a bold move reminiscent of Chinese tactics, Manila recently deployed Coast Guard officials as fishermen to remove buoys blocking Filipino fishermen from their Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). This symbolic act of defiance exposed China’s bullying tactics and served as a rallying cry for other nations facing similar intimidation.

China’s objective includes pressuring the Philippines to surrender its claim to Second Thomas Shoal, which is a strategic reef in the Spratly Islands. Despite Chinese harassment, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has remained steadfast in defending Philippine sovereignty, citing the 2016 international arbitral ruling against China’s expansive maritime claims.

The Philippines’ stance has garnered support from the United States, with whom it recently reaffirmed mutual defense commitments under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty. The Biden administration has intensified military cooperation through bilateral talks and joint military exercises, signaling a deepening of the U.S.-Philippines alliance.

Furthermore, other nations such as Japan, Australia, and Canada have demonstrated solidarity with the Philippines against China’s maritime aggression. Tokyo has bolstered defense ties, while Australia has conducted joint patrols with the Philippines in the South China Sea.

By leading the charge against China’s maritime bullying, the Philippines is setting a precedent for Southeast Asian nations to assert their sovereignty and safeguard vital resources. With robust support from Washington and its allies, Manila is challenging China’s “gray zone” activities and promoting free and open seas, reshaping the regional security landscape in favor of sovereign nations.

Philippines’ Response: Upgrading Military Infrastructure

The Philippines is embarking on a significant effort to upgrade its military infrastructure, allocating an impressive $35 billion over the next decade. This initiative aims to bolster the nation’s defense capabilities, particularly in the South China Sea. President Ferdinand “Bong Bong” Marcos has greenlit these modernization efforts, focusing on strengthening the navy, air force, surveillance, and other military assets.

Colonel Francel Margareth Padilla, spokesperson for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, highlight the importance of this capability enhancement, emphasizing its significant contribution to national defense as the country transitions from domestic security operations to territorial defense. Chief of Staff Romeo Brawner Jr has disclosed plans to acquire more warships, combat aircraft, radars, and other essential equipment under this modernization initiative.

The modernization plan includes various acquisitions, such as Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA), radars, additional frigates, guided missile systems, helicopters, and submarines. Notably, the Philippine Navy is poised to acquire its first submarines, with countries like South Korea, Spain, and France expressing interest in supplying them. Moreover, the Philippines is set to receive its inaugural batch of the Coastal Missile System “BrahMos”, following a significant investment of approximately $375 million.

The deployment of the BrahMos missile system, strategically positioned in the South China Sea, marks a significant step, making the Philippines the first country outside India to utilize this advanced technology. With its formidable capabilities, including a supersonic speed of Mach 2.8 and an effective range of approximately 300km, the BrahMos missile system enhances the Philippines’ defensive posture and asserts sovereignty over its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

In parallel, the Philippines is enhancing its military presence on islands and reefs in the contested South China Sea, as announced by Manila’s military chief, Romeo Brawner. This initiative focuses on improving the livability of these features for troops stationed there, including the installation of essential infrastructure like desalination machines.

Despite ongoing territorial disputes involving multiple claimants, including China, the Philippines remains steadfast in its commitment to international law and sustainability. Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro affirmed the country’s determination to ensure the “unimpeded and peaceful” exploration and exploitation of natural resources within its EEZ, signaling a proactive stance in safeguarding national interests.

Transforming Military Focus

During a visit to Australia, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. of the Philippines reiterated the country’s commitment to cooperation with China regarding talks on the disputed South China Sea. However, he emphasized that the Philippines would push back if its sovereignty and maritime rights were disregarded. Marcos expressed his dedication to working with Southeast Asian nations and China to establish a long-awaited code of conduct for the South China Sea, anchored on international law.

Speaking at a Lowy Institute forum, Marcos pinpointed the importance of managing tensions effectively for the success of COC negotiations. He reaffirmed the Philippines’ stance of not surrendering any of its territories to foreign powers. Despite strained relations with China since Marcos assumed office in 2022, characterized by disputes over atolls and reefs in the South China Sea, the Philippines has strengthened its defense ties with the United States, a move Marcos emphasized was the country’s choice.

Highlighting the enduring alliance with the United States as a pillar of regional stability, Marcos emphasized the Philippines’ commitment to strengthening it further. He departed from his predecessor’s pro-China stance, accusing Beijing of aggression in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. Under Marcos, the Philippines has expanded the number of bases accessible to U.S. forces, including new sites facing Taiwan.

Regular U.S.-Philippine military exercises have extended to joint air and sea patrols over the South China Sea and near Taiwan, actions viewed by China as provocative. Marcos criticized the excessive focus on the superpower rivalry between the United States and China, stressing the importance of addressing aggressive, unilateral actions that violate international law. He announced approval of the third phase of the military’s acquisition plan to support the country’s shift towards external defense, ensuring the peaceful exploration and exploitation of natural resources within its jurisdiction, including its exclusive economic zone.

International Support

During a summit in Manila between Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Japan affirmed its commitment to providing defense-related equipment to the Philippines. These included small patrol vessels, radars, and drones under Japan’s new Official Security Assistance (OSA) framework. The initiative aimed to increase security ties with the Philippines in response to China’s aggressive maritime expansion in the East and South China Seas.

The decision to supply defense equipment aligns with Japan’s National Security Strategy, emphasizing cooperation with like-minded countries to reinforce security. Unlike official development assistance, OSA enables direct support for the armed forces of partner nations with shared objectives.

Territorial disputes between the Philippines and China, particularly in the South China Sea, have escalated, prompting Japan and the Philippines to enter negotiations for a Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA). This agreement will facilitate joint training between Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and the Philippine military.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno recognized Japan’s commitment to upholding a free and open international order based on the rule of law and described the Philippines as a strategic partner sharing fundamental values and principles, expressing Japan’s eagerness to strengthen the bilateral relationship.

Japan’s prioritization of the Philippines as the first recipient of OSA signifies its commitment to supporting the Philippines and enhancing security cooperation. Additionally, the RAA negotiation highlights Japan’s efforts to deepen ties with Manila and pinpoint the importance of joint training and cooperation in addressing regional security challenges, particularly concerning China’s assertive actions.

The momentum for enhanced security cooperation has been bolstered by the Marcos administration’s efforts to improve relations with the United States since assuming office in June 2022. Both Tokyo and Manila anticipate that the conclusion of the RAA will pave the way for expanded joint training activities, including with Washington.

The inaugural joint talks between the National Security Advisers of the United States, Japan, and the Philippines on June 16 marked a significant milestone in regional security cooperation. In response to escalating tensions over North Korea, China, and Ukraine, the three nations affirmed their commitment to bolstering defense cooperation to adapt to the evolving security landscape.

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan reported that discussions among himself, Takeo Akiba of Japan, and Eduardo Ano of the Philippines centered on addressing the turbulent regional security environment. Their joint efforts aimed to enhance peace and stability, particularly in critical areas such as freedom of navigation and economic security.

A joint statement issued by Sullivan, Akiba, and Ano claimed the importance of strengthening trilateral cooperation, building upon existing alliances between Japan and the U.S., as well as between the Philippines and the U.S.

Sullivan highlighted the significance of this new trilateral framework, emphasizing its integration into broader U.S. alliances in the Indo-Pacific. The engagement includes three-way cooperation with Japan and South Korea, along with the Quad security dialogue involving Australia, India, Japan, and the United States. Discussions encompassed opportunities for joint naval exercises in the Indo-Pacific, as well as deepening military cooperation in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.

Japan’s adoption of a new National Security Strategy last December, include a significant increase in defense spending and security assistance for developing nations. This strategy is particularly relevant for the Philippines, which is expected to benefit from Japanese support in infrastructure development and security assistance.

As tensions persist in the South China Sea among multiple claimants, including China, the United States reaffirmed its commitment to freedom of navigation and peaceful dispute resolution in the region.

Philippines’ First Submarines

Likewise, the Philippines’ decision to acquire its first submarine represent a significant shift towards a more proactive stance in safeguarding its interests beyond its borders, according to analysts. Approved by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as part of the military’s modernization plan.

Chester Cabalza, founder of the International Development and Security Cooperation think tank, views the submarine purchase as a transformative step, signaling a departure from the country’s traditional focus on internal security towards a stronger emphasis on territorial defense. Cabalza believes this move will position the Philippines as a maritime power in the region.

The Philippines’ defense budget for 2024, which includes additional funding to enhance its presence in the South China Sea, signals its commitment to strengthen its military capabilities. Mark Manantan, director of cybersecurity and critical technologies at the Pacific Forum International, sees the submarine acquisition as a sign of Manila’s growing security assertiveness.

In this regard, several submarine manufacturers have eagerly presented their offerings to the Philippines, reflecting the keen interest in securing a contract. Spain’s Navantia stands out with its proposal of two S80-class Isaac Peral submarines, valued at US$1.7 billion. This offer includes not only the acquisition of submarines, but also the construction of a submarine base in Ormoc City, Leyte, along with comprehensive training, technology transfer, and maintenance support.

Navantia’s S80-class submarines, measuring 81 meters in length, boast advanced capabilities, including the ability to launch attacks from sea to land and conduct various missions such as surveillance and anti-submarine operations. Equipped with an Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system, these submarines can remain submerged for extended periods, enhancing their operational effectiveness.

Furthermore, the submarines offered by Navantia can deploy guided Harpoon missiles and Tomahawk cruise missiles, further augmenting the Philippines’ defensive capabilities in the maritime domain.

In addition to Navantia, France’s Naval Group is competing to provide submarines to the Philippines, offering two diesel-electric Scorpene-class submarines.

Meanwhile, South Korean company Hanwha Ocean (formerly known as DSME) is also vying for the opportunity to supply submarines to the Philippine Navy. Their proposal of the Jang Bogo-III submarines, equipped with advanced propulsion systems and guided missile capabilities, presents another compelling option for the Philippines.

Overall, the race among Spain, France, and South Korea to supply submarines to the Philippines highlights the country’s commitment to enhancing its defence capabilities in the face of evolving security challenges.

Overall, analysts view the submarine acquisition as a pivotal moment for the Philippines. The Philippines is currently deliberating whether to proceed with the acquisition of its inaugural submarine, a decision that holds the potential to increase the country’s naval capabilities amid a strategic shift toward external defense, stated Colonel Francel Margareth Padilla, spokesperson for the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

End Note: Philippines’ Stand Against China

As tensions escalate in the South China Sea, the Philippines is determined to assert its sovereignty and defend its interests. By bolstering its military capabilities, forging strategic alliances with the United States and Japan, and exploring new avenues such as acquiring submarines, the Philippines is sending a clear message that it will not tolerate further encroachment on its territorial waters. Through diplomatic engagement, modernization efforts, and international support, the Philippines is reshaping the regional security landscape, challenging China’s “gray zone” tactics, and promoting the principles of freedom of navigation and territorial integrity.

Analysis

Philippines to conduct ambitious exercises with the U.S. as concerns over China grow

Philippines to conduct ambitious exercises with the U.S. as concerns over China grow

The Philippines and the United States are gearing up for their most ambitious joint military exercise to date due to escalating tensions with China in the South China Sea. This year’s Balikatan drills, set to commence from April 22 to May 10, will see more than 16,000 soldiers conducting joint naval exercises beyond the Philippines’ territorial waters for the first time since the exercise’s inception in 1991. The expanded scope of the drills reflects growing concerns over Chinese activities in disputed areas of the South China Sea. These maneuvers will involve a joint command center coordinating four major activities focused on countering maritime and air threats.
Officials revealed that the exercises will feature operations such as the simultaneous securing of two islands along the Philippines’ western and northern coasts, followed by the deployment of High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers for live-firing exercises. Additionally, Philippine naval vessels will showcase a newly acquired ship-based missile system in coordination with U.S. Air Force squadrons, culminating in a simulated strike on a decommissioned vessel. The exercises aim to foster integration between Philippine and U.S. forces, bolstering their readiness as a unified fighting force.

Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad, a spokesperson for the Philippine navy, stated that the drills convey a clear message: the Philippines is prepared to defend its sovereign rights and is not acting alone in safeguarding regional security. The increased military cooperation between the Philippines and the U.S. comes because of heightened tensions, particularly around strategic areas like the Second Thomas Shoal, where recent confrontations with China have raised concerns about potential conflict in the region.
The Biden administration’s commitment to the Philippines’ defense has been underscored by warnings that any armed attack against Philippine military vessels would trigger the U.S.-Philippine mutual defense treaty. President Biden reaffirmed the “ironclad” U.S. defense commitment during President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s visit to Washington, highlighting the strategic importance of countering Chinese assertiveness in the region.
The deployment of U.S. medium-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific region has further exacerbated tensions with China, marking the first such deployment since the Cold War era. China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Lin Jian, expressed grave concern over this move, denouncing it as a unilateral effort to enhance military advantage near China’s borders. The deployment, confirmed by the U.S. military on Monday, strategically positions a mid-range capability missile system on northern Luzon in the Philippines, within range of vital locations along China’s eastern coast.
Analysts view this deployment as a significant development with potential implications for regional security dynamics. Eric Heginbotham from MIT’s Center for International Studies highlighted the system’s role in countering Chinese military capabilities, particularly concerning Taiwan. Wilson Beaver of The Heritage Foundation emphasized that while the current deployment is limited, a more permanent presence of such systems could complicate Chinese military planning, especially regarding scenarios like an invasion of Taiwan.
The U.S. military’s strategic posture in the Pacific aligns with broader regional security goals, as emphasized by Commander Charles Flynn of the U.S. Army Pacific Command. Chinese officials have repeatedly voiced opposition to actions perceived as threatening regional peace and stability, citing concerns over heightened tensions in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait. Overall, these developments underscore the evolving dynamics and geopolitical tensions in the Indo-Pacific region, with implications for broader security strategies and regional stability.

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Asia

In a significant move, India delivered BrahMos missiles to the Philippines

In a significant move, India delivered BrahMos missiles to the Philippines

Background

The BrahMos missile system, a collaborative endeavor between India and Russia, stands as a testament to the ingenuity and strategic foresight of both nations. Conceived in the late 1990s, the project aimed to develop a supersonic cruise missile capable of delivering precision strikes at incredible speeds. Named after the Brahmaputra and Moskva rivers, it symbolizes the convergence of Indian and Russian expertise in defense technology. Over the years, the BrahMos missile has evolved into one of the world’s fastest and most versatile cruise missiles, showcasing the capabilities of Indo-Russian cooperation in the realm of defense.

Development of BrahMos missile system

The development journey of the BrahMos missile system has been characterized by innovation, collaboration, and strategic vision. Beginning with the conceptualization of a joint venture between India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyeniya, the project aimed to harness the technological prowess of both nations to create a formidable weapon system. Through years of research, testing, and refinement, the BrahMos missile system emerged as a flagship project, demonstrating India’s indigenous technological capabilities and its ability to collaborate on complex defense projects with international partners.

The Genesis of BrahMos: From Concept to Reality

The genesis of the BrahMos project can be traced back to the late 1990s when India and Russia embarked on a journey to develop a supersonic cruise missile. Driven by the need to enhance India’s defense capabilities and bolster strategic deterrence, the project brought together the expertise of Indian and Russian scientists and engineers. The collaboration aimed to leverage the strengths of both nations in propulsion, guidance systems, and materials technology to create a missile system unlike any other. Named after two iconic rivers, the BrahMos missile symbolizes the synergy between India and Russia in pursuit of technological excellence and national security.

Strengthening Bilateral Ties: The India-Philippines Defense Deal

In January 2022, India and the Philippines signed a landmark defense deal worth US$ 375 million, laying the foundation for enhanced cooperation in defense technology and strategic partnership. Central to this agreement was the provision for the export of BrahMos missiles to the Philippines, marking a significant step in India’s defense diplomacy. The deal underscored India’s commitment to bolstering the defense capabilities of its allies in the Indo-Pacific region, particularly in light of growing security challenges posed by regional adversaries. For the Philippines, the acquisition of BrahMos missiles represented a strategic investment in national security, providing the country with a potent deterrent against potential threats.

The Delivery: Bridging Distances, Strengthening Alliances

On a bright Friday morning, the skies above Manila witnessed a historic moment as an Indian Air Force C-17 Globe master jet descended, carrying the first batch of BrahMos missiles destined for the Philippines. The delivery, meticulously planned and executed, marked the culmination of years of negotiations, technical cooperation, and diplomatic efforts between India and the Philippines. Symbolizing the strength of bilateral ties and the shared commitment to regional security, the arrival of the BrahMos missiles in the Philippines sent a powerful message to allies and adversaries alike. With each missile launcher, radar unit, and command-and-control center, the Philippines bolstered its defense capabilities, ensuring a swift and decisive response to emerging threats in the region.

Unleashing BrahMos: A Game-Changer in Modern Warfare

The BrahMos missile system represents a paradigm shift in modern warfare, combining speed, precision, and versatility to deliver devastating blows to enemy targets. With a top speed of Mach 2.8, the BrahMos missile outpaces conventional cruise missiles, making it virtually impossible for adversaries to intercept or evade. Its ability to be launched from multiple platforms, including submarines, ships, aircraft, and land-based launchers, gives it unparalleled flexibility on the battlefield. For the Philippines, the acquisition of BrahMos missiles heralds a new era of defense capabilities, providing the country with a strategic edge in safeguarding its territorial integrity and national interests.

Global Interest: The BrahMos Phenomenon Goes International

The delivery of BrahMos missiles to the Philippines has sparked interest from other nations seeking to enhance their defense capabilities in the face of evolving security challenges. Countries like Argentina have expressed interest in acquiring BrahMos missiles from India, recognizing their unparalleled speed, range, and precision. The growing international interest in BrahMos missiles underscores their status as a game-changer in modern warfare and a symbol of technological prowess and strategic deterrence. As India expands its defense partnerships and strengthens its position as a net security provider in the Indo-Pacific region, the BrahMos missile system emerges as a key instrument of peace, stability, and deterrence.

End Note

The delivery of BrahMos missiles to the Philippines marks a significant milestone in India’s defense diplomacy and strategic outreach in the Indo-Pacific region. It underscores India’s commitment to strengthening bilateral ties, fostering regional security, and promoting peace and stability in the face of evolving security challenges. As the BrahMos missile system finds new homes across the globe, it serves as a testament to the ingenuity, innovation, and collaborative spirit of nations working together to safeguard shared interests and uphold the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. In an era defined by uncertainty and complexity, the BrahMos missile system stands as a beacon of hope, deterrence, and resilience, embodying the collective aspirations of nations to build a safer, more secure world for future generations.

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Analysis

Philippines, the United States, Australia, Japan to hold joint air and sea drills in South China Sea

Philippines, the United States, Australia, Japan to hold joint air and sea drills in South China Sea

In a significant move aimed at addressing China’s growing assertiveness in the disputed South China Sea, the United States, Australia, Japan, and the Philippines have announced plans to conduct joint naval and air drills on April 7, 2024. This coordinated effort, named the “Maritime Cooperative Activity,” will be held within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and is strategically timed ahead of an upcoming trilateral summit involving US President Joe Biden and the leaders of the Philippines and Japan. The defense chiefs of these four nations emphasized that the joint exercise aims to showcase their collective commitment to increase regional and international cooperation in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific.

According to statements from the Japanese embassy in Manila, the drills will involve the participation of naval and air force units from all participating countries, focusing on enhancing interoperability in doctrines, tactics, techniques, and procedures, with a specific emphasis on anti-submarine warfare training. The decision to hold these joint drills and convene the upcoming summit follows ongoing tensions in the South China Sea, notably characterized by confrontations between Chinese and Philippine vessels near disputed reefs.

China has accused the Philippines of escalating tensions in the region, where longstanding maritime territorial disputes persist. In response, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reaffirmed America’s unwavering commitment to defending the Philippines against armed attacks in the South China Sea, highlighting the shared commitment to uphold international law and ensure freedom of navigation.

Meanwhile, ongoing talks between the Philippines and Japan for a defense pact allowing troop deployment on each other’s territory reflect Manila’s efforts to strengthen partnerships because of regional challenges. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has emphasized the need for Japan to play a larger role in providing options and support to Southeast Asian countries, aligning with broader efforts to foster trilateral cooperation in various sectors, including technology and energy development, with the United States and the Philippines.

The upcoming joint naval and air operations in the disputed South China Sea signal a deepening of ties among the participating nations. This exercise highlights their collective commitment to regional stability and the rule of law in the Indo-Pacific. China’s continued assertion of claims over contested waters, including those also claimed by the Philippines, Japan, and self-ruled Taiwan, has prompted the United States to strengthen alliances in the region, particularly with treaty allies Japan and the Philippines.

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