Oops! Leni thinks Chinese bomber landed in PH seas
Vice-President Leni Robredo has expressed “alarm” about China’s recent military activities in the South China Sea—but she erroneously stated that its bomber landed within the area claimed by the Philippines.
Robredo’s press statement in Tagalog read: “The conduct of China’s landing and takeoff exercises in the West Philippine Sea using their long-range bombers is alarming.”
An earlier version of Robredo’s statement even included the words “Kalayaan Group of Islands,” the Filipino name for the Spratly Islands.
The Chinese H-6K long-range bomber actually landed on Woody Island in the disputed Paracel Islands, which is quite far from the Philippines and is not claimed by the country. (The Chinese-occupied archipelago is actually claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.)
The label “West Philippine Sea” is used by the Philippine government to refer only to the portion of the South China Sea covered by the country’s exclusive economic zone, including parts of the contested Spratlys.
Although the Paracel Islands is outside the Philippines’ maritime claim, the landing of the bomber ruffled feathers because the entire Philippines had come within its range.
Responding to the Inquirer’s Twitter posts about the error in Robredo’s statements, Office of the Vice-President legal adviser Ibarra Gutierrez III said “the point of the statement remains.”
“These Chinese nuclear-capable bombers pose a threat to PH interests in the WPS and the security of the region, and our [Department of Foreign Affairs] should address this issue decisively,” Gutierrez said.
In her statement, Robredo reiterated her plea for the DFA to file a diplomatic protest and express strong opposition to China’s actions. She added that the Constitution prohibits the presence of any nuclear weapons anywhere in the Philippines.
“We should pursue all diplomatic ways to maintain our relations with our neighboring countries, but this should not lead to our nation being compromised,” said Robredo, who is currently in the United States to attend her daughter’s graduation./ac
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