Bayan Muna calls for gov’t action vs Chinese presence in Pag-asa
MANILA, Philippines — Bayan Muna on Saturday called on the government to protest the increasing presence of Chinese vessels circling the Pag-asa Island (Thitu Island), which it said may lead to heightened Chinese aggression.
The military earlier said over 600 Chinese vessels have been sighted steaming around the Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea since January this year.
According to Bayan Muna chairman and Makabayan bloc senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares, there seems to be a coordinated effort by Chinese vessels to narrow and tighten areas that Filipino fishermen and other Philippine vessels can enter in our own territory.
“Fishermen have reported continued Chinese presence in Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough shoal) and our fishermen were shooed away by the foreigners while at the same time China is also boxing us out of Pag-asa islands and nearby areas,” he said.
“The government should protest these types of actions and get the support of the international community against these aggressive moves in the West Philippine Sea. We fear that China might be gearing up to build more artificial islands or even invade our Pag-asa islands,” said Colmenares.
Colmeranes denied that Bayan Muna wanted to be alarmist, but said the Duterte administration “should prepare for this and not let China trample our sovereignty again.”
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, meanwhile, also said that nobody wants war but “at the very least, the Duterte administration should stand up for the Philippines.”
“For the longest time we have been saying that the government should deploy more coast guard vessels in the area and encourage our fishermen to actively report the presence of Chinese vessels in Panatag shoal and other parts that are contested. We should also push for joint patrols with other affected countries like Vietnam, Malaysia & Brunei because this is a bigger deterrent to China’s plan,” Zarate said.
He said the country should also notify the international community to help the Philippines condemn and counter the latest action of China. /jpv