Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said the successful multilateral maritime cooperative activity (MMCA) of naval forces of the Philippines, United States, Japan and Australia is part of Manila’s ongoing defensive posture shift to protect its territories, particularly its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“The Philippines is changing its defense paradigms, strengthening its own capabilities, and leveraging alliances with allies and like-minded nations,” Teodoro said in a statement issued Monday night.

The DND chief said this would enable the Philippines to both secure its territory and its rights under international law and become an effective partner of other countries in “ensuring freedom of navigation, overflight, and security in international waters.”

Teodoro was referring to the “Comprehensive Archipelagic Defense Concept” (CADC), aimed at developing the country’s capability to protect its entire territory to ensure that the next generation of Filipinos would be able to enjoy its natural resources.

“The Philippines is committed to preserving a secure, stable, and peaceful Indo-Pacific Region. As an archipelagic country, it both upholds and champions a rules-based global order, especially in the maritime domain, where the primacy of UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) is well-established and enshrined in the 2016 Arbitral award,” he added.

During the April 7 MMCA in the West Philippine Sea, the Philippine Navy deployed the offshore patrol vessel BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PS-15) with its AW-109 helicopter, missile frigate BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) with its attached AW-159 Wildcat anti-submarine helicopter, and patrol ship BRP Valentin Diaz (PS-177).

Meanwhile, the US Navy participated with a littoral combat ship, USS Mobile, and a P-8A Poseidon aircraft along with the Royal Australian Navy’s guided missile frigate HMAS Warramunga and a Royal Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft; and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s destroyer JS Akebono.

The DND said two vessels of China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy were spotted at a distance from the activity.

These ships, however, did not interfere with the drills. (PNA)