“THE sea is the space where, since primordial times, humanity has carried out the greatest range of economic activities, which ensured the survival of those who engaged in them. It was by sea that links among peoples were established, cultures were founded, and affinities were created. All told, the sea was the essential element for the shaping of today’s global village.” – Admiral Augusto da Silva Cunha of the Angolan Naval Force
The sea plays a major role in globalization. However, it also provides access to actions of oppression, drug trafficking, illegal immigration, smuggling and other illegal activities.
Conflicts between nations manning the seas is also a reality. Countries lay claim to contested reefs, islands and waterways.
The ongoing territorial dispute between the Philippines and China in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) is a prime example.
Because of the many opportunities (and dangers) that lie in the sea, governments invest on their maritime forces to protect the waters surrounding their nations — not only to establish peace and security, but also to protect their sovereignty.
On March 18, the US 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) dropped anchor at the Manila South Harbor for a four-day goodwill port call. On board the Blue Ridge are more than 4,000 sailors and marines, including personnel of Filipino descent, who will visit their relatives in the country.
The routine port visit highlights the strong historic, community, and military connections between the US and the Philippines. Maritime cooperation is one of the important aspects of the US-Philippines bilateral relations.
Aside from cementing the already-strong ties between the two navies, the presence of the US Pacific fleet will help promote naval engagement and cooperation for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
Vice Admiral Robert Thomas, commander of the United States 7th Fleet, also said that the US Navy will assist its Filipino counterpart in improving maritime security capabilities.
“Key Philippine efforts include improving maritime domain awareness through development of long-range aircraft and water-borne patrols within the Philippine economic exclusion zone and enhancing integration among the national coast watch system. Key there is interoperability and integration,” Thomas said.
The US Pacific Fleet port call comes amid a territorial dispute between the Philippines and China, a naval powerhouse. While American and Filipino officials made no mention of China, the visit aims to aid Philippines effectively patrol its exclusive economic zone (EEZ). pursue foreign policy objectives, safeguard maritime interests, and tackle the prevailing security challenges.
Maritime security is a global responsibility. Naval goodwill visits are aimed to build and maintain trust and contribute, toward conflict prevention and resolution.
The Philippines and the US have shared common ground since time immemorial. Both parties put emphasis on the need for cooperation, to ensure international peace and security, and freedom of navigation.
(AJPress)

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