From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 17): All aircraft carriers entitled to freedom of navigation: Palace
Malacañang has assured anew that all aircraft carriers, including the US Navy carrier, USS Carl Vinson, are entitled to freedom of navigation in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
“All vessels, including aircraft carriers, are entitled to freedom of navigation in the WPS,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said in a statement.
Roque made the remark after the USS Carl Vinson arrived in Manila Friday to begin “routine maritime operations".
The aircraft carrier is also in Manila to promote freedom of navigation, as well as work with partners and allies to enhance regional security and stability.
Roque, meanwhile, expressed hope that routine maritime operations would run smoothly and that there would be no untoward incident.
“We hope there will be no untoward incident on the occasion of the visit of USS Carl Vinson in our region,” he said.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, former Philippine National Police chief, for his part, welcomed the aircraft carrier’s visit, describing it as a “breath of fresh air”.
“Not being pro-USA and anti-China, the presence of USS Carl Vinson in the West Philippine Sea is a breath of fresh air for those of us, pro-Philippines,” Lacson posted on Twitter.
The arrival of the USS Carl Vinson comes after the Philippines protested China’s reported naming of five undersea features in the Philippine Rise (formerly Benham Rise).