Lawmaker insists on PH action on presence of Chinese vessels
Contrary to Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano’s statement, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano insists the presence of Chinese vessels in disputed areas in the South China Sea “means something.”
Alejano, in a statement on Thursday, stood by his claim that Chinese vessels were near the inhabited Pag-asa Island and had even blocked a government ship from approaching it.
On Wednesday Cayetano said, “The presence of ships alone does not mean anything.”
He also said it would be “alarmist” to “keep looking at China as the enemy,” adding that “there is no situation there that is a cause of lowering of trust among the [South China Sea] claimants at this point in time.”
“Have we already adopted the strategy of silence, inaction and subservience in West Philippine Sea so as not to offend China?” Alejano said.
Cayetano had shot back that Alejano never expressed concern about the United States doing freedom of navigation patrols in the disputed seas because it is seen as an ally.
However, Alejano said US activities were “not even comparable” because it “is unlike China which has the history of grabbing islands and harassing our fishermen.”
On Wednesday, the lawmaker delivered a privilege speech calling on the Duterte administration to “break [its] … silence with regard to the repeated incursions perpetuated by China.”
“I call on the Philippine government officials to be transparent in what is happening in the West Philippine Sea. We must assert our rights in the midst of talks with China,” he said.
They should ensure that even as the country recently receives big-ticket economic and infrastructure deals, rights over the disputed waters are not being forfeited, he said.
Pag-asa, one of the disputed islands currently occupied by the Philippines, is home to a far-flung civilian community with a population of 184 as of the 2015 census. It is located 480 kilometers west of Puerto Princesa City in Palawan province.
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