The Philippines and Vietnam are natural allies in their common struggle against China’s drive for hegemony in East Asia. Already partners in ASEAN, the two are likely to be driven closer together by Beijing’s increasingly brazen displays of power as it enforces its claim to some 80 percent of the West Philippine Sea.
The Philippines and Vietnam share convergent views and concerns over Chinese assertiveness in the West Philippine Sea. This has led to intense diplomatic interaction and some coordination in multilateral institutions, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The Philippines and Vietnam reached a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Defense Cooperation on October 26, 2010. The MOU was signed in Hanoi by Vietnam’s Minister of National Defense, General Phung Quang Thanh, and the Philippines’ Secretary of Defense, Voltaire Gazmin, on the sidelines of the state visit by former President Benigno Aquino.
The MOU contained generally worded provisions for reciprocal visits by military delegations, information exchanges on counter-terrorism, cooperation in military education and training, search and rescue assistance, and collaboration in the development of military equipment and technology. A joint technical working group was set up to implement the MOU.
As 22 Filipino fishermen were on their last day coming from Occidental Mindoro on May 29, a speeding Chinese vessel hits the Philippine boat which endangered the lives of our fishermen. The Chinese boat collided with the Philippine vessel on June 9, in the West Philippine Sea, Defense Chief Delfin Lorenzana reveals.
To add to that, the Pinoy fishermen were actually asleep as this happened. They had no idea they were already hit by the Chinese ship and were shocked that the boat was damaged, as reported by the captain’s cousin Jimwel Tañedo in an interview with GMA News.
Fortunately, a Vietnamese fishing vessel was nearby the area as the Philippine ship was anchored down. In coordination with the Philippine military, the Vietnamese crew members helped rescue the Filipino fishermen.