– The Diplomat – Amidst the tensions generated by China’s development of artificial islands in the South China Sea, Philippine Secretary of National Defense Voltaire Gazmin reiterated the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) plan to rehabilitate the air and naval facilities in Subic Bay Freeport in the central part of the mainland island of Luzon.
– USNI News – The Philippines government has begun efforts to reinforce the tiny outpost of BRP Sierra Madre, a dilapidated World War II-era landing ship deliberately beached on Second Thomas Shoal in 1999.
– Manila Times – Undersea patrols in West Philippine Sea may roll out by year end.
– The Diplomat – Tokyo and Manila are preparing for yet another joint maritime drill.
– USNI News – Like many of its regional peers, the Philippines is in the midst of a defense buildup, motivated in no small part by China’s assertive moves in the western Philippine Sea and the resource-rich Spratly islands.
– The Diplomat – Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam are all striving to bolster their maritime capabilities.
– The Diplomat – How realistic are plans for the Philippines to acquire submarines?
– War is Boring – Manila has to make up for decades of neglect.
– Reuters – Thousands of Philippine and American soldiers began annual war games on Monday near disputed waters in the South China Sea, testing the readiness of the two oldest security allies in the southeast Asian region to respond to any emergency.
– Wall Street Journal – The Philippine Navy’s newest warship, BRP Ramon Alcaraz, is more like a middle-aged transfer than a fresh recruit. But newness is relative for what was until very recently Southeast Asia’s most run-down fleet, a navy rendered defunct by years of neglect and underfunding.
– Reuters – Philippine and American troops are set to hold naval exercises this month near a disputed shoal, which will almost certainly anger China with tension already high in the South China Sea.
– BBC – Journalists on board a Philippine ship have witnessed Chinese coast guard vessels trying to block access to a disputed shoal in the South China Sea.
– Reuters – When Philippine President Benigno Aquino compared China to the Germany of 1938 and called for global support as his country battles Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea, he put the focus on a case that Manila has filed in an international court. The Philippines has taken its dispute with China to arbitration under the United Nations’ Convention on the Law of the Sea and its lawyers say that the tribunal has discretionary powers to allow other states to join the action. China is refusing to participate and has already warned Vietnam against joining the case being heard at the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, sources have said. Hanoi has so far kept its options open. Any final ruling by the court on the dispute, one of the most tense flashpoints in Asia, cannot be enforced but will carry considerable moral and political weight, analysts say.
– Washington Post – China’s most daring adversary in Southeast Asia is, by many measurements, ill-suited for a fight. The Philippines has a military budget 1 / 40th the size of Beijing’s, and its navy cruises through contested waters with 1970s hand-me-downs from the South Vietnamese. From that shorthanded position, the Philippines has set off on a risky mission to do what no nation in the region has managed to do: thwart China in its drive to control the vast waters around it.
– BBC – The Philippines says it will challenge Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea at a UN tribunal.
– Aviation Week – Drive fast enough down the well-built coastal road in Barangay Buenavista, a stone’s throw from the waters of Ulugan Bay on the Philippine island province of Palawan, and you might miss the doorstep for a future amphibious invasion force. Were China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and marine forces ever to be tasked with teaching the Philippines a “lesson,” much as Deng Xiaoping taught such a lesson to Vietnam and its former Soviet ally during a brief 1979 war, that coastal road provides a crucial western access that would put PLA mechanized forces about an hour north of Palawan’s capital of Puerto Princesa.
– BBC – The Philippines says it has withdrawn its largest warship from a continuing stand-off with Chinese boats in the disputed South China Sea.
– BBC – The Philippines says its main naval vessel is engaged in a stand-off with Chinese surveillance ships at a disputed South China Sea shoal.
– Associated Press – The United States will provide a second warship to the ill-equipped Philippine military as it confronts China in increasingly tense territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
– Associated Press – U.S. forces are obliged to help defend Filipino troops, ships or aircraft under a 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty if they come under attack in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, Philippine officials said, citing past American assurances.
– Associated Press – Philippine President Benigno Aquino III insisted Friday that his country won’t be bullied by China in a territorial spat over the Spratly Islands, but also announced an end to oil exploration in the disputed waters that had angered Beijing.