PH stopped patrols over Panatag Shoal for almost 2 years now – Alejano
It was not only recently that the Philippine government stopped sending Navy ships in Panatag Shoal as it has been doing so for almost two years now, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano claimed on Tuesday.
Alejano was disputing National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.’s earlier claim that the government has recently stopped sending Navy ships in Panatag Shoal for patrolling. Esperon said that the halt in patrols was meant to ease tensions with China.
“I have learned that since January of 2016 up to the present, the Philippine Navy has not conducted a single mission to Panatag Shoal,” Alejano said in a statement.
“The frequent visits of Philippine Navy ships were noted in 2012 during a standoff with the Chinese Coast Guard. In the years that followed, very few patrols were conducted. In 2016, the government eventually ordered the complete halt of patrols in the area,” he said.
Alejano hit Esperon’s statement as a “clear attempt to hide the fact that we have long ceased efforts to strengthen our claims on the disputed areas.”
The former Marine soldier also revealed that Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) was ordered by the Philippine government to stop the aerial patrols over Panatag Shoal.
Without identifying his source, Alejano said the administration ordered the AFP to desist from conducting aerial patrols over Panatag Shoal, a claim which the AFP denied.
“The compromise then was to conduct aerial patrols only once a month. It is extremely disheartening to see our own government limiting the AFP from performing its mandate,” he said.
Since the administration reduced Philippine presence in Panatag, Alejano pointed out that there were still cases of Chinese harassment in the area in the months that followed.
“Instead of deterring incidence of harassment, Chinese forces have become more bold and fearless. In fact, some of our fishermen have opted not to venture anymore in Panatag for fear and worry of wasting their food and fuel just to be blocked by the Chinese,” he said.
Alejano also revealed earlier that a Chinese flag was planted on a sand cay within a Philippine-controlled area.
The former mutineer scored President Duterte’s administration anew for its subservience to China.
“We have practically surrendered our rights in the West Philippine Sea by acceding to the requests, or shall we say pressures from China. The Duterte administration has bargained our claims in the West Philippine Sea in exchange for promised economic concessions,” he said.
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