PHL, Vietnam navies to jointly patrol Spratlys THE Philippines and Vietnam have moved closer to jointly patrolling their claimed maritime territories in the disputed Spratly Group of Islands that are being aggressively claimed by China. The standard operating procedure for the joint patrol by the countryâ€™s Navy and the Vietnam Peopleâ€™s Navy (VPN) of the Northeast Cay and Southwest Cay, both on the South China Sea, was signed by Vice Admiral Alex Pama, Navy flag officer in command and the Vietnam Navyâ€™s commander in chief Adm. Nguyen Van Hien. Lt. Col. Omar Tonsay, Navy spokesman, said Northeast Cay is occupied by the Philippines, and it is located 45 kilometers northeast of Pag-asa, the biggest island that is currently occupied by the country. On the other hand, the Southwest Cay is occupied by Vietnam, and it is located 3 kilometers away from Northeast Cay. Carlyle Thayer, an Australian expert on regional issues in Southeast Asia and who talked during the first forum on the South China Sea held in the country last year, had advised both the Philippines and Vietnam to counter Chinaâ€™s â€œaggressive assertivenessâ€ in the disputed territory. He warned that the two countryâ€™s failure to act against Chinaâ€™s intrusive actions in the Spratlys will only encourage Beijing to keep on violating their exclusive economic zones (EEZs). Chinaâ€™s â€œnine dotted map,â€ that it submitted to the United Nations in 2009, cut deep into both the EEZs of Vietnam and the Philippines, two of the five claimant- countries in the South China Sea that include Brunei, Taiwan and China. The map, also known as â€œnine dotted dashâ€ and â€œOx tongue,â€ was Chinaâ€™s sole basis in laying claim over more than 85 percent of the South China Sea, which however violates the 200 kilometers EEZ as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. During his visit to Vietnam, Pama signed with Hien the â€œSOP on Personnel Interaction in the vicinity of Southeast Cay and the Northeast Cay Island between the VPN and PN [Philippine Navy].â€ Tonsay said that the memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the joint patrol was signed last year. Aside from the joint-maritime patrol, the Philippines and Vietnam also forged defense cooperation, with Pama and Hien signing an MOU on the â€œEnhancement of Mutual Cooperation and Information Sharingâ€ between the two navies.