PH readying stronger protest against China – Aguirre
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Tuesday said that the Philippines is preparing a stronger protest against China over Beijing’s plan to install a radar station in the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal.
When asked if they will follow the suggestion of Supreme Court’s Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio to file a strong formal protest before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague against the Chinese construction activity in the shoal, he said “I think so, there will be (a protest to be filed). Medyo malakas-lakas ang ifa-file (A stronger one will be filed).”
Aguirre assured that President Rodrigo Duterte will not surrender the nation’s sovereignty despite his reported pronouncement that the government would be helpless if China builds structure in the shoal.
“Definitely, he will not let go of (Panatag Shoal),” he said.
“As a matter of fact, we are strengthening the relationship with the US,” Aguirre said.
Earlier, Carpio, an expert in the territorial dispute, said the government could send the Philippine Navy to patrol the shoal.
“If the Chinese attack Philippine Navy vessels, then invoke the Philippine-US Mutual defense treaty which covers any armed attack on Philippine navy vessels operating in the South China Sea,” he pointed out.
Carpio also stressed that the government may ask the US to declare the shoal as part of the Philippine territory and accept the standing US offer to hold joint patrols in the South China Sea for this purpose.
In 2012, China seized Panatag Shoal after a tense standoff between Chinese and Filipino vessels. China is denying Filipino fishermen access to its rich fishing stock.
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