The island of Pag-Asa, seen from a naval Islander plane en route between Pag-asa, known internationally as Thitu in the South China Sea located off the coast of western Philippines on August 15, 2013. (Photo by Ashley Gilbertson / VII Photo)

US Ambassador Philip Goldberg indicated on Wednesday that the United States is open to the possibility of joint naval patrols with the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea, saying it would continue exercising “freedom of navigation” in the disputed sea.

The Philippines has asked the US for a joint patrol after China began testing flights in Fiery Cross Reef, one of the three artificial island where an airfield was built by Beijing.

The Philippines earlier raised the possibility of a joint patrols, after the Philippine’s Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the two countries.

“We do discuss that principle (joint patrols) with the Philippines and so I am not discarding that possibility,” U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg told reporters.

“But we are not going to make announcements about that beforehand because it is our view that we have every right under international law to exercise freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and we will continue to do so.” he added.

Recently, a US Navy destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles near one of China’s artificial islands prompting an angry reaction from Beijing. -John Esconde