SUBIC BAY – The Philippine Navy ship BRP Tarlac is back to its home port here this morning after participating in the “international fleet review” held in China to mark the 70th anniversary of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy.
The Philippine Navy sent the 120-meter long BRP Tarlac with a 400-man contingent, according to Philippine Navy spokesman Jonathan Zata, joining other navy delegations which China’s Ministry of National Defense said would be participated in by some 60 countries.
Subic Bay used to be host to the biggest naval base of the United States (US) Navy outside the US mainland until 1992, and is now a bustling Freeport and Economic Zone.
Residents and locators are dominantly US-leaning, and non-receptive to Chinese military connections, especially with China’s take-over of Philippines territories and Exclusive Economic Zone, including the nearby Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal, at the West Philippines Sea.
Despite China’s evident and continuing aggression, however, Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte continues to maintain close relations with China, failing, if not refusing, to invoke the ruling of the United Nation’s Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) that affirmed the Philippines’ rights over the disputed areas at the West Philippines Sea.
Philippine Navy Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad has said that BRP Tarlac’s participation in the Chinese Naval activity “will build trust between PLA Navy and the Philippine Navy.” (VVV)