Cayetano says he protested China’s radio warnings vs PH military plane
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said Thursday he protested China’s radio warnings in the West Philippine Sea to his counterpart during his recent visit to Beijing.
The top diplomat answered in the affirmative when asked if bringing up the issue on radio warnings during his visit to China last week was considered as a form of protest.
“When you bring up matters, even when the President brought it up in his speeches, that’s a protest. What kind of diplomatic actions that can do best results? We can do protests in a non-confrontational manner. So far that has been more effective,” he told reporters in a press briefing on the sidelines of the budget hearing at the House of Representatives.
Cayetano was referring to media reports early this month that showed China’s aggressive radio warnings to a Philippine military aircraft flying above the disputed waters.
Interestingly, the report also showed China’s radio warning to the US Navy, which appeared to be more polite in manner compared to the Philippines.
Cayetano said that he brought up the maritime issues with his counterpart Wang Yi, following the instructions of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Basically, we conveyed to him we are very concerned. We are friends. We are claimants. We believe in our rights as you will stand for your rights. But we are concerned with the language,” he said.
“He responded right away. We talked of possible solutions, what is happening in the area and how to sustain the momentum na less conflict. There are still real issues but the situation is getting better by the day,” he also said.
The government has earned criticisms for its non-confrontational stance in the sea dispute in exchange of economic opportunities and friendly ties with China.
At a budget hearing in the Senate on Tuesday, Cayetano said they “haven’t counted” the number of its diplomatic protests against China. This was in contrast to his statement in a hearing at the House of Representatives last May that they have filed “50 to 100” diplomatic protests since 2016.
DND ‘not regularly’ updated of diplomatic actions vs. China
The Department of National Defense, meanwhile, appears to be not constantly updated on the definite status of their recommendations for diplomatic actions against China’s aggressiveness in the West Philippine Sea.
At a budget hearing on Wednesday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he only relies on the “testimony” of Cayetano that the DFA has indeed filed diplomatic protests against China.
“According to Sec. Cayetano, since this administration came to power, they have already lodged more than 100 diplomatic protests. In fact dala-dala nila yung mga papel nung ano…I can’t say binilang ko nga yun if diplomatic protests. I have to rely on the testimony of Sec. Cayetano that they in fact have filed the protests,” he said when asked by Rep. Gary Alejano about the status of their requests to file diplomatic protests against China.
“According to him (Cayetano), calling his counterpart and protesting is also a diplomatic protest in addition to formal diplomatic protest,” he added.
Lorenzana said they are prompted to recommend the filing of diplomatic protests when they receive reports from fishermen on the ground about China’s activities in the West Philippine Sea or harassment cases such as the Ayungin incident last May, where Chinese forces challenged a Philippine Navy boat on a resupply mission to BRP SIerra Madre.
These reports will be submitted to the Task Force West Philippine Sea, chaired by the National Security Adviser, which forwards it to the DFA to formalize the request for the filing of diplomatic protest.
“Nakakatanggap lang ako ng copy furnish. We can’t go directly there,” Lorenzana said of the requests.
Pressed for clarification, DND spokesperson Dir. Arsenio Andolong said they are “not regularly” updated of the actions taken by the DFA after they have filed their recommendations. /kga
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