Navy Chief denies war games at Spratlys

A ranking military official on Sunday denied that the Philippine and Vietnamese Navies will be conducting ‘war-games’ at the disputed Spratly’s Island at South China, which raising concerns with the Chinese government.

The Philippine Navy’s Flag Officer-In-Command (FOIC), Vice Admiral Alexander Pama said that there’s no agreement between Philippines and Vietnam for holding off any joint military exercises in the disputed region, ‘rich in mineral’ deposits.

“There’s no agreement to conduct war games… What we have is standing operating procedure based on memorandum of understanding (MOU) that was signed when the Vietnamese president came here last October,” Pama said.

The navy chief was referring to the “SOP on Personnel Interaction” in the vicinity of Southeast Cay and the Northeast Cay Island between the Vietnam People’s Navy (VPN) and PN for the implementation of the MOU.

The “SOP on Personnel Interaction” was signed by Pama and His Excellency General Do Ba Ty, Chief of the General Staff, VPN.Under the MOU, the two countries have agreed to hold confidence building measures where the Spratlys is concerned.

“The agreement is not a war games, it was more on having confidence building measures for our troops that are stationed there and for us to know each other,” Pama said.

The two countries have agreed to undertake several measures, including exchange of information on weather condition and in terms of humanitarian assistance and rescue operations.

“Example, if our fisherman is in distress and are near to their sides, they will provide assistance and help and vice versa,” Pama said.

The navy chief said that PN and VPN will initially hold staff talks and fun games between PN personnel in Pag-asa island and the VPN personnel in their contested part of the Spratlys will be discussed.

Pama added PN and VPN personel may also exchange food as part of efforts to erasemutual suspicion.

The navy chied added that exchanges of hotline numbers with the VPN chief while the operations center of both navies have also exchanged ay emails and contact numbers.

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