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Solons blast China; Beijing hits Marcos

Photo from Senate of the Philippines’ FB page
Maricel Cruz & Rey E. Requejo

Beijing spokes says PH disregards facts, history

Several lawmakers on Monday bewailed China’s “despicable and callous” disregard of international laws and common decency following reports that its Coast Guard seized and tossed food supplies intended for Filipino soldiers recently.

China, on the other hand, accused the Philippines of forming blocs and flexing muscles in the South China Sea by bringing in outside forces in the region amid heightening tensions over disputed maritime territories.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning criticized President Marcos’ speech over the weekend during the Singapore defense forum as a “disregard (of) history and facts.”

“The Philippines frequently infringed on China’s rights and made provocations at sea, brought in forces outside the region to form blocs and flex muscles in the South China Sea, and spread disinformation to vilify China and mislead the international perception on this matter,” Mao said in reaction to Mr. Marcos’ keynote speech at the 21st Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

“In particular, driven by selfish geopolitical calculations, the US has played an extremely ignoble role by supporting and assisting the Philippines in infringing on China’s sovereignty, and by exploiting the South China Sea issue to drive a wedge between China and other regional countries.”

In his speech, Mr. Marcos asserted the stability of South China Sea is no longer just a regional issue, but a global issue.

Also on Monday, a US maritime security analyst said Chinese vessels “remain in blockade position” at Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal) and Escoda Shoal (Sabina Shoal) in the West Philippine Sea.

Ret. US Air Force Col. Ray Powell, director of SeaLight, said at least 16 Chinese maritime militia vessels were spotted at Ayungin Shoal as of Monday morning.

A China Coast Guard ship was still at Escoda Shoal, Powell said, along with two Chinese maritime militia vessels

“China’s maritime militia has now deployed into blockade positions east of Second Thomas Shoal and south of Sabina Shoal,” he said.

In Manila, Senate Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros described this latest harassment of China as “utterly disgusting.”

House Deputy Minority Leader France Castro, meanwhile, said the Philippines cannot let Beijing’s bullying tactics go unchecked.

“Not only do they (China) lack respect for Philippine sovereignty, they also showed no respect for their fellow human beings. If we are to have a chance at settling our disputes, China must show a measure of good faith by reining in her Coast Guard,” Hontiveros said.

“China is increasingly becoming a big greedy dragon; stealing and destroying the treasures and resources of peaceful people,” said Castro, nominee of ACT Teachers party-list group in the House of Representatives.

The incident reportedly happened on May 19 when the Philippine Navy launched an airdrop operation to bring food supplies to soldiers manning the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal.

A China Coast Guard (CCG) vessel allegedly blocked the delivery and even obstructed a medical evacuation team.

Hontiveros acknowledged the better definition of restraint displayed by the Filipino soldiers, who did not retaliate.

“Our troops have been guarding the BRP Sierra Madre with integrity, dignity, and honor. I salute their courage and calm amid the harassment of China,” she said.

“I trust that the Department of National Defense will reinforce our soldiers stationed on Ayungin Shoal. We will not allow China to relentlessly demean our troops, our people,” the senator said.

Senator Sonny Angara, for his part, said the Philippine government should call on China to exercise restraint and not impede regular and non-hostile activities involving Philippine personnel, including resupply and medical missions necessary for their health and well-being.

He noted the Philippines has not engaged in any action to provoke such a response from the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) and has always maintained that any dispute between parties must be resolved through diplomatic and lawful means.

“We call on the Executive to pursue all remedies available to the country in ensuring the safety and welfare of all Filipino citizens,” he said.

Editor’s Note: This is an updated article. Originally posted with the headline ‘Despicable and callous:’ Lawmakers slam China Coast Guard’s latest harassment of Filipino troops

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