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PH gov’t urged on S. China Sea militarization: Let’s not stay silent

/ 06:01 PM April 18, 2018

AERIAL IMAGES Two Xian Y-7 Chinese military transport planes were spotted on Panganiban Reef (Mischief Reef) in these enlarged surveillance photos taken last Jan. 6 and given to the Inquirer by a source. It is believed to be the first known presence of military aircraft on the artificial island within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. Security experts say fighter planes are likely to be deployed there eventually.

The government has been urged to file a “strong” diplomatic protest against China’s militarization in the South China Sea amid reports that military transport planes have landed in Mischief Reef, an area within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“It’s important that we do not stay silent on this. It’s very important that we file a very strong protest because if we fail to file a protest, this will be misconstrued as agreeing to what is happening in Mischief Reef,” said former security adviser Roilo Golez in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

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The Inquirer published surveillance photos taken on Jan. 6, showing the presence of China’s two Xian Y-7 military transport aircraft on Mischief Reef. It was also the first reported presence of military planes on the reef, furthering concerns that combat planes would be deployed there in time.

READ: China military planes land on PH reef

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“I’m worried that if we remain silent, this is tantamount to accepting the position of China,” Golez said, adding that the militarization of the reef within the Philippines’ EEZ is a potential national security threat.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in 2016 that Mischief Reef belongs to the Philippines. Part of the ruling says the reef, located about 125 nautical miles from Palawan, forms part of the Philippines’ EEZ and continental shelf, and China has violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights with its island-building in the area.

China has refused to acknowledge the verdict and continues to insist that it has sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea.

“Dapat nating isipin ang ating tagumpay sa The Hague, mag two years na ito in three months’ time. Kung manatiling tahimik tayo baka sabihin hindi interesado ang Pilipinas,” Galvez said.

(Let us think of our victory in The Hague, this will be two years in three months’ time. If we remain silent, they might think the Philippines is no longer interested.)

President Rodrigo Duterte set aside the arbitration court ruling that invalidated China’s massive claims in the South China Sea in exchange of economic investments and opportunities from China. He said he will bring up the ruling in proper time.

READ: Duterte assures Xi of peaceful engagement on sea row

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The government has been pushing for a supposed independent foreign policy since Duterte assumed office, which meant being less dependent on the traditional ally United States.

Golez said he was in favor of the independent foreign policy that the government is pursuing but he questioned whether the government was consistent with its claim.

“Sang-ayon ako sa independent foreign policy. Pero kung tayo ay mananahimik, paano natin masasabi na independent foreign policy?” he said.

(I agree with the independent foreign policy. But if we remain silent, how can we justify the independent foreign policy?) /jpv

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TAGS: China, diplomatic, Mischief Reef, South China Sea
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