Random Image Display on Page Reload

Stop ‘invasion’, Gibo tells China

Manalo: No evidence from Beijing on Ayungin claims

EDCA SITE INSPECTION. Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro tours Camp Melchor Dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela on Tuesday, as military officials show him the improvements made to the base, one of the four facilities tapped under the US-Philippines Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). AFP Photo

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. on Tuesday said China should stop its “invasion” (pananakop) by intimidation and construction of structures in the West Philippine Sea if it is sincere in calling for peaceful dialogs to resolve maritime tensions.

“How can China ask us to stop when they have been relentless in their acts of invasion? To me it is simple: It is okay to talk, but we should be on equal terms,” Teodoro said in an interview at Camp Melchor Dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela, a military site for the US-Philippines Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

“China said we should hold dialogs – fine. But they should stop building structures in the West Philippine Sea and stop harassing our vessels,” the Defense chief added.

China told: Present evidence on alleged deal

Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo likewise turned the tables on China, saying it should show evidence to prove its claim that the Philippines made any promise to remove the BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal where it has been serving as an outpost since 1999.

“It was claimed [by China] but we have no record of such an agreement.

We have asked them to give us a copy or any written copy of an agreement but they have never given us any copy,” Manalo told legislators during a budget hearing.

“If there is no clear indication that such an agreement, then we can assume that there is no such agreement that exists,” he added.

Mercado: Creeping invasion since 1995

Former Defense Secretary Orly Mercado said China has been doing a “creeping invasion” since 1995 when it occupied Mischief Reef.

Mercado said it was also unthinkable to claim that former President Joseph Estrada was the one who made a commitment to remove BRP Sierra Madre when he was the one who ordered its “deliberate grounding” in 1999 along with BRP Benguet in Scarborough Shoal.BRP Benguet, however, was removed in 1999 – a move that Mercado said he strongly opposed.

The ship’s removal was reportedly done to appease China, whose then-Premier, Zhu Rongji, was planning to cancel a visit to Manila in November 1999, Mercado said.

“Now we have no control over [Scarborough Shoal],” he said in a television interview Tuesday.

“The position of the Department of Foreign Affairs then was different from ours,” Mercado said, but clarified it did not mean a commitment was made to remove BRP Sierra Madre.

“I don’t believe that the President [Estrada] would have given them that promise,” Mercado said.

‘Don’t be a doormat, protect core interest’

Mercado also cautioned the Marcos administration against pursuing a “friend to all, enemy to none” diplomatic stance.

“There is no such thing. In a world of inequality and insecurity, it is very important that you identify your core national interest and you protect that. You’ll become the doormat of your neighbors if you do that,” he added.

On Monday, Chinese Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission Zhou Zhiyong claimed the Philippines “made an explicit commitment” to tow the navy ship but has not done so after 24 years.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, however, said China’s claim was nothing but “a psychological warfare at its best.”

“Now that we are rallying behind the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Coast Guard, they tried to make up a statement that will make us fight internally. It’s psy-war. We should not succumb to psychological warfare. We should stand united,” Zubiri said.

P100m funding for Ayungin structures

Senator Francis Escudero, for his part, sought the allocation of at least P100 million in the 2024 national budget to bankroll the construction of permanent structures at Ayungin Shoal to strengthen the country’s presence.

He said the move will give President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. some flexibility as the chief architect of the country’s foreign policy.

“Otherwise, we will have to wait another year if he decides to do so sometime next year without any budget cover,” Escudero said. “I don’t think anything prevents us from at least allocating funds in order to give the President flexibility to make the accommodations in that shoal more acceptable for our soldiers who are there instead of living in a dilapidated old ship. “

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.

*****
Credit belongs to : www.manilastandard.net

Check Also

Brief phreatic eruptions recorded over Taal Volcano—Phivolcs

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) reported on Saturday three short-lived phreatic or …