Hilbay: Presence of Chinese ships in Pag-asa Island a sign of invasion
MANILA, Philippines — The presence of Chinese ships in Pag-asa Island within the West Philippine Sea (WPS) is already a sign of invasion, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay said on Wednesday.
According to the Otso Diretso candidate, the entrance of the Chinese ships in the disputed region, well within the country’s exclusive economic zone, is no different from the vessels making their approach toward Manila Bay.
“Let me just point out that the Pag-asa is a territory currently occupied by the Philippines. Kaya ‘yong pagpasok ng Chinese vessels within the territory of Pagasa is an invasion,” Hilbay explained in a press briefing in Quezon City.
“They are no different from China going into Manila Bay, because the Manila Bay is part of the territorial waters of Luzon. Pag-asa is an island which has its own territorial sea,” he added.
Recent reports from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have revealed an “extraordinary surge” of a Chinese fleet in the West Philippine Sea. More than 600 fishing vessels were seen surrounding the sandbars of Pag-asa.
Administration critics have urged government to file a diplomatic protest against China regarding the issue, saying that it is a coordinated effort to restrict Filipino fisherfolk from venturing in the area.
Hilbay said that President Rodrigo Duterte has an obligation to call out China, as the Asian superpower’s actions threaten sovereignty aside from going against the United Nations (UN) Charter.
“That is of course a violation of the UN Charter because that constitutes threat or use of force. That’s why hindi lang dapat note verbale lang yung fina-file ng ating Department of Foreign Affairs. It should be a loud and public diplomatic protest,” Hilbay said.
“I would say even the President has the formal constitutional obligation to call out China because their presence is a threat to our territorial integrity,” Hilbay added.
On Monday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has already filed a diplomatic protest.
However, Hilbay has called Panelo’s claim as an outright lie.
“I would just like to call out Secretary Panelo for deceiving the press yesterday. ‘Yong balita na nilabas kahapon ay nagprotesta raw ang Pilipinas don sa presence ng Chinese vessels [The news came out yesterday was that the Philippines protested the presence of Chinese vessels],” he pointed out.
“Yesterday, inamin ni Secretary Panelo na wala naman talagang protesta. Ang sinabi ni Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teddy Boy Locsin, hindi daw naman nila ilalabas ano man ‘yong sinabi nila [Secretary Panelo admitted that there was no protest. The one stated by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin will never be made public],” he said. /jpv
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