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Chinese flag planted on sand cay in PH-controlled area – solon

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Chinese flag planted on sand cay in PH-controlled area – solon

By: - Reporter / @deejayapINQ
/ 07:27 AM August 23, 2017

Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano. INQUIRER PHOTO / NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

China has planted its flag on a sand cay located 12.6 kilometers northeast of Philippine-controlled Loaita Island, at the boundary of the country’s exclusive economic zone, in the South China Sea, a lawmaker said on Tuesday.

“A Chinese vessel allegedly erected [a] 3-meter-high Chinese flag on a sand cay [that] is known to be within a Philippine-controlled area,” Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano told reporters at the House of Representatives.

Different from Sandy Cay

The sand cay referred to by Alejano is not Sandy Cay, which Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said on Saturday had been seized by the Chinese.

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Sandy Cay is located 4.63 km from Pag-asa Island in the Kalayaan Group in the Spratly archipelago.

Loaita, internationally known as Kota Island, is also part of the Kalayaan chain and of the Kalayaan municipality of Palawan province.

Sandy Cay is also different from the Vietnam-occupied Sand Cay, another feature in the Spratly archipelago.

Alejano said he received the information about the Chinese flag two weeks ago from a source whom he declined to identify.

He said the flag was discovered around the third week of July.

Alejano, however, could not say if the Chinese flag was still on the site, or if Chinese ships remained in the area.

He said he did not have photographs of the flag, as it had been spotted by a ship that was too far away to take pictures.

Chinese vessels

Earlier, Alejano, a former Marine captain, disclosed that China had deployed two frigates, a Coast Guard vessel and two large fishing vessels near Pag-asa Island.

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His disclosure was followed by Carpio’s announcement that China had seized control of Sandy Cay.

Alejano said the planting of a Chinese flag on the sand cay was quite alarming, as “it’s a manifestation of ownership.”

He likened it to China’s seizing control of Panganiban Reef (Mischief Reef) in the West Philippine Sea in 1995.

“The continuous activities of China in the disputed waters in the West Philippine Sea are very concerning,” he said.

Be transparent

Alejano urged the Department of Foreign Affairs to be transparent on issues regarding the West Philippine Sea.

“Their denial or silence and inaction are not helping while things like these happen on the ground. While the Philippines is pursuing bilateral engagements with China, the government has the responsibility to inform the public through providing appropriate and careful information meant for public consumption,” he said.

Alejano said it was important that China “should also know we also know.”

“That’s our weapon, too. Monitoring, the support of the public and the international community, if you downplay that, then what’s your leverage?” he said.

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TAGS: Antonio Carpio, Gary Alejano, Loiata Island, Maritime Dispute, South China Sea, West Philippine Sea
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