'We know that they assisted the Philippine Navy in being able to evade the Chinese ships,' says Philippine Ambassador to Us Jose Cuisia Jr.
"I don't specifically know the details and they will not discuss that. When you tell them, then
China will know
what to look for the next time around," Cuisia told reporters in . Manila
"We know that they [
assisted the Philippine Navy in being able to evade the Chinese ships.... I
think it was the strategy that was discussed," Cuisia added. US
Cuisia said this was "normal" and "will continue" as part of the "continuing military security alliance" with the
US, which has been helping the in
aerial surveillance. The Philippines US
is a treaty ally of the
under the Mutual Defense Treaty and Visiting Forces Agreement. Philippines
In a tense incident in the high seas, 2 Chinese ships harassed on March 29 a Philippine ship carrying journalists and troops from the Philippine Marines who will replace those who have been trapped there for 5 months.
A previous attempt to rotate the troops was blocked by
, prompting the military to
airdrop supplies. (READ: PH sending ships to Ayungin despite blockade) China
Using a telephoto lens, a photographer who joined the mission to Ayungin Shoal spotted a plane marked "US Navy" directly above the civilian ship while they were on their way to the shoal. It was first spotted when one of the 2 ships stopped at sea because its propeller shaft was broken. The journalist and crew moved to the other ship.
As they approached Ayungin Shoal, they were almost blocked by Chinese coast guard ships. The Philippine ship successfully evaded them. The tension lasted 2 hours with the Chinese ship crossing the bow of the Philippine ship at least once.
It took the Philippine ship nearly 40 hours to get there from the coast of
Once the ship reached the marooned BRP Sierra Madre that has served as a naval detachment of the Marines, reporters spotted several other "unidentified" planes.
"I can feel their (
presence. Paikot-ikot," a reporter who joined the mission told
Rappler. This gave them a sense of security, the reporter said, especially
after the incident with the Chinese coast guard ships and the presence of
Chinese helicopters. US
Rappler sought the comment of military spokesperson Major General Domingo Tutaan Jr but he said he hasn't heard Cuisia's statement. The Philippine Navy has not responded to our inquiry.
A military-to-military agreement titled Enhanced Defense Cooperation is also being finalized between the 2 countries to cooperate on maritime security, among others. "This agreement is different because it will allow the
US to put up facilities that are both beneficial
to the US and the ,"
he said. (READ: PH,
US draft military deal for Aquino review) Philippines
Philippines welcomes statements from US military
and political officials denouncing China's
agressiveness in the South China Sea and supporting the '
move to bring the dispute to the United Nations. (READ: 'No such thing as 9-dash-line' – US envoy
and Expect stronger US message vs China aggression) Philippines