MANILA (PhilAmPress) — Another United States Navy warship, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG-54), docked in Manila on July 20 for a routine port call that highlights the strong historic, community, and military connections between the Philippines and the United States.
This developed as Filipino fishermen from Zambales and Pangasinan were driven away by China’s Coast Guard from the Scarborough Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc which has been a traditional fishing ground for them being a part of Zambales and Philippine territory and within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.
The fishermen, accompanied by a GMA Network reporter who recorded the scary encounter, were forced to go back to the shore of Zambales after 7 to 8 hours of travel, without any catch.
The scary incident took place despite a United Nations tribunal ruling which rebuffed China’s claims over the shoal and other islands and reefs in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea. The Filipino fishermen urged President Rodrigo Duterte to also send the Philippine Coast Guard and the Philippine Navy to patrol the waters to be able to protect the Filipino fishermen and ensure their livelihood by catching fish in the area.
During the visit, service members from the American ship will participate in a series of community relations projects and sporting events, while experiencing Filipino culture.
Although some USS Curtis Wilbur sailors will be experiencing the Philippines for the first time, some of its crewmen, such as Senior Chief Gas Turbine System Technician Fitz Dasal, are looking forward to seeing the country again because they are Americans of Filipino descent or Filipino-Americans.
“I was born in Bacolod, Philippines, which is south of Manila,” Dasal said.
“My wife and children are all US citizens, but they currently live in Bacolod. I’m very excited and grateful to see them. I’m thankful that the Navy granted me the opportunity to see my loved ones. The Philippines is a great country and I encourage everyone to get out and experience the culture to the fullest,” he added.
The Philippines is a longstanding treaty ally of the United States and became a major non-NATO ally in 2003.
With a partnership spanning more than 70 years, the American and Philippine militaries have worked closely in regional security, counter-terrorism, and combating transnational crime.
USS Curtis Wilbur is on patrol with Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 5 in the US 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, that includes the South China Sea.