US calls for restraint in Spratlys

A TOP US envoy on Monday, March 7, urged restraint on all claimant countries in the disputed Spratly Islands even as Philippine authorities dispatched additional patrol vessels there following territorial spat last week.

US Ambassador to Manila, Harry Tomas said that the US government believes that the issue in South China can be resolved peacefully.

“We believe that the Asean states and China should sit down according to the 2002 code of conduct and again we urge all restraint on all sides,” Tomas told defense reporters in a chance interview in Camp Aguinaldo.

The Philippine government has already filed a diplomatic protest with the Chinese government after a local vessel exploring for oil in the disputed chain of Island was harassed by two Chinese patrol boats sometime last week.

A military official said that tension in the area have already subsided a week after the incident and said they expect the seismic exploration in the area to be completed within the week.

“There are no more intrusion of foreign vessels,” Western Command (Westcom) chief, Lt. General Juancho Sabban said in a separate interview.

The Westcom chief said the military will still continue to conduct patrols in the area, especially in the Kalayaan Group of Islands even after the government has completed its oil exploration and seismic test in the area. Anthony Vargas

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