Philippine and Vietnamese troops guarding the Spratly Islands will not be having “war games” but “fun games,” Navy chief Vice Adm. Alexander Pama said Sunday.
“Wala pong kasunduan tungkol sa tinatawag na war games… sabi ko nga fun games ito eh,” Pama said in an interview over radio station DZBB.
“”Yung tao natin sa Pag-asa at ‘yung sa isla nila (Vietnam) dun sa malapit, magco-coordinate muna at kung pupuwede bibisita ‘yung ating mga tropa dun sa isla nila at sila ay magba-basketball, magsa-soccer at magba-volley ball doon, medyo nakakatawa pero totoo po ‘yan,” he said.
The plan will serve as a “confidence-building measure,” for troops of the two countries to get to know each other and prevent misunderstanding, Pama said.
Officials of the Philippine and Vietnamese navies may meet in the coming months to finalize the plan, he said.
Aside from the “fun games,” Navies of the two countries will exchange information on weather or missing fishermen, Pama added.
The Navy chief made the remarks when sought for comment on China’s protest over “war games” being planned by the Philippines and Vietnam.
During Pama’s visit to Hanoi last month, he and Vietnam People’s Navy chief Adm. Nguyen Van Hien signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at strengthening cooperation among troops in the disputed Spratly Islands.
The agreement covers “information sharing” and “interaction” among troops guarding the Northeast Cay and Southwest Cay.
Northeast Cay is occupied and called Parola by the Philippines. It lies 45 kilometers northwest of Pag-Asa Island, the largest Spratly island handled by Manila, and is only 3 kilometers north of Vietnamese-occupied Southwest Cay.
During his visit, Pama also proposed that joint patrols in “common maritime domains” and that Philippine Navy personnel be allowed to train at Vietnam’s high-tech Naval Shipyard X46, which can build various types of warships and high-speed vessels.
The oil- and gas-rich Spratly Islands is being claimed in whole or in part by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei, and Malaysia. (John Roson)
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