Voltaire Gazmin said he asked Admiral Harris to help protect the transport of Filipino troops and supplies to Philippine-occupied reefs in the South China Sea by deploying American patrol planes to discourage Chinese moves to block the resupply missions, the Associated Press reported.
“If there are Americans flying around there, we won’t be troubled,” Gazmin said. “We need to be helped in our resupply missions. The best way they could assist is through their presence.”
Gazmin said Harris assured him of US readiness to provide assistance, the AP reported.
Beijing has repeatedly urged Washington not to take sides in the escalating maritime dispute in the region. Last month, China’s Defense Ministry accused the United States of ‘militarizing’ the South China Sea by taking part in such military drills.