Bayan Muna to Duterte: Ask China to dismantle structures in WPS
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte should also demand the removal of Chinese military installations in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), leaders of the party-list group Bayan Muna said on Friday.
According to Bayan Muna chair Neri Colmenares and Rep. Carlos Zarate, this is aside from raising the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruling, which invalidates China’s nine-dash line claim that includes most of the WPS.
“He should also demand that China dismantle the military installations built in seven of our reefs in 2018 in violation of the tribunal decision,” Colmenares said in a statement.
Colmenares also stressed that these should have been done on Duterte’s first visit, and not after three years and his fifth trip to China.
“Had President Duterte asserted our tribunal victory in his first visit, China would not have been able to establish its seven military bases on the reefs of the Philippines,” he explained.
“China only managed to build its military bases in Mischief Reef, Johnson South, Cuarteron, Fiery Cross, Subi Reef, McKennan Reef and Gaven Reef when President Duterte refused to oppose China’s island building in the WPS,” Colmenares added.
Duterte is currently in China to discuss issues about the disputed areas in the WPS. Earlier, it was reported that he already brought up the arbitral ruling with Chinese President Xi Jingping, who insisted that China does not recognize the Philippines’ supposed victory.
The Chief Executive’s decision to uphold the PCA ruling was made after a series of events involving Chinese ships in the WPS, including one last June 9 in Recto Bank where a local fishing boat was sank after a Chinese vessel rammed it.
In 2018, INQUIRER.net reported that China has nearly finished its construction of military installations in reefs claimed by the Philippines, which would eventually transform the Spratly islands into a fortress.
Zarate emphasized the importance of Duterte’s promise to uphold the PCA ruling, which he claimed was the basis of some people in voting for Duterte as president in 2016.
“I hope he fulfills his promise this time. Many voted for him during the 2016 elections because of his jet ski promise to assert our sovereignty against China. While this turnaround may be a little too late, at least we can now start reclaiming our dignity after we were humiliated by China since Duterte came to power,” Zarate said.
“The Philippines, who won over China in the UNCLOS tribunal, was in the best position to have protested and opposed Chinese island building in our seven reefs but Duterte refused. His promise to raise the issue in his fifth visit to China is a little too late as China is now well entrenched in these reefs,” he added.
Colmenares insisted that it is part of Duterte’s responsibility to take back the reefs, especially since they were partly lost under his tenure.
“Vietnam bravely opposed China’s island building even if it did not win any tribunal decision. Tayo pa na nanalo, tayo pa yung astang talo,” he noted.
“President Duterte should now demand the complete demilitarization of the South China Sea in order to dismantle China’s military bases. If China refuses, we can file a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly asking the UN to intervene and supervise the demilitarization of the disputed area,” he added. /jpv
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