Philippine Daily Inquirer - - NEWS - By Jaymee T. Gamil @JGamilINQ

The Philip­pines may lack the mil­i­tary mus­cle to face off with China on the West Philip­pine Sea, but what it does have are friends for backup.

Out­lin­ing the Philip­pines’ “op­tions” in the face of Chi­nese in­cur­sions and in­stal­la­tions in the dis­puted seas, De­fense Sec­re­tary Delfin Loren­zana listed two: “al­liances with other Asean na­tions and the Philip­pines’ mu­tual de­fense treaty with the United States.”

Loren­zana made the state­ments dur­ing an open fo­rum at the “Pilip­inas Con­fer­ence 2018” in Makati City, or­ga­nized by in­de­pen­dent think tank Strat­base Al­bert Del Rosario In­sti­tute on Fri­day.

Big­gest strength

“It’s still the big­gest strength of the Philip­pines, this al­liance with the United States,” Loren­zana said, an­swer­ing a ques­tion seek­ing his re­ac­tion to Pres­i­dent Duterte’s state­ments that the Philip­pines could not go to war with China.

“In his frus­tra­tion, I think he said that we can’t fight China but he knows we have some op­tions here,” Loren­zana said, cit­ing the Philip­pines’ re­gional and US al­liance.

The de­fense chief also cited in­creased mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tion with Aus­tralia and Ja­pan.

In wel­come re­marks dur­ing the con­fer­ence, for­mer Am­bas­sador Al­bert del Rosario said the Philip­pines should seek ac­tion from the United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly to press China to abide by the ar­bi­tral rul­ing.

It was dur­ing Del Rosario’s time as for­eign sec­re­tary when the Philip­pines won the ar­bi­tral case against China’s “nine-dash line” claim.

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