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Ex-president Estrada’s successors blamed ‘partly’ for WPS row

SEN. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito said the succeeding administrations or after the Estrada presidency are “partly at fault” in not establishing a permanent base in Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

SEN. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito

The senator said the apparent failure of the Arroyo, Aquino, and Duterte administrations had emboldened China to continue asserting its claim over some features in the WPS.

He again defended his father, former president Joseph “Erap” Estrada, whom The Manila Times columnist Rigoberto Tiglao claimed to have “promised” China that the Philippines would remove its grounded BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal in the WPS.

He said Tiglao's statement “is outright inconsistent with historical facts.” The BRP Sierra Madre was deliberately beached in Ayungin Shoal in November 1999 to serve as the country's station in the WPS.

Ejercito, in a statement, on Tuesday said his father's decision was made “in response to heightened Chinese encroachment near Mischief Reef.”

“Instead of decommissioning the ship, President Erap acted on the recommendation of the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines and deliberately grounded the BRP Sierra Madre on Ayungin Shoal to establish a temporary base for the Philippine military in the area and assert our territorial rights,” he said.

“Until recent years, there were no reported issues between the Philippines and China regarding this matter. It's only now that the Chinese government is asserting their ownership over that area,” he said.

Ejercito added, “Partly at fault are the subsequent administrations that failed to follow through on establishing a permanent base in that part of the West Philippine Sea and advancing our claim over these disputed waters.”

“Mr. Tiglao's column is patently inaccurate and distorts the reality of President Estrada's decisive actions against Chinese aggression,” he said.

“It is thus imperative that Mr. Tiglao's column be rectified to accurately reflect actual historical events,” Ejercito added.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the Philippines had decided in 1999 to deploy a “permanent station on Ayungin Shoal [through the BRP Sierra Madre] in response to China's illegal occupation of Panganiban Reef in 1995.”

The BRP Sierra Madre, the DFA said, serves as “a permanent station for Philippine military personnel deployed to protect and secure Philippine rights and interests in the West Philippine Sea, particularly in the Ayungin Shoal and its vicinity.”

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Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net

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