Philippine Senator Gregorio Honasan wants the United States to deploy US troops in Scarborough Shoal and other disputed areas of the West Philippine Sea to help secure and protect Philippine interests there.
Honasan, a former Army Colonel before becoming a senator, welcomed President Benigno Aquino's plan to request US assistance by providing the country with spy and surveillance planes to monitor the reported Chinese incursions in known Philippine territories in the West Philippine Sea.
But he questioned the purpose of the planned monitoring activities in the disputed areas when the US would do nothing on the information gathered.
“But the question really is: What do we do with that information?” he told the Inquirer in a phone interview. “If they just feed us information that there’s an intrusion but the Americans would do nothing, useless.”
The senator also said he favors the deployment of US troops now participating in the joint US-Philippine military exercise in Mindanao which is done periodically as part of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
“In a bilateral situation, there should be a parity of forces, of leverage. But in our case with China, there’s none. That’s why I need to underscore the need for a third party, an observer,” he said.
The Philippines and China have been locked in a month-long standoff over the ownership of Scarborough Shoal, a triangle-shaped chain of reefs and rocks or very small islands 55 kilometres (34 mi) in circumference with a total area including shallow water areas of 150 square kilometers.
Scarborough Shoal is located approximately 123 miles (198 km) west of Subic Bay, with its nearest landmass located 127 miles (220 km) away in Palauig, Zambales Philippines. Its distance from nearest China landmass is approximately 472 nautical miles.