‘Diplomatic reciprocity’: PH Coast Guard defends China ship’s port visit
MANILA, Philippines — Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) chief Admiral Joel Garcia on Friday justified the upcoming port visit of a China Coast Guard (CCG) ship to the country.
It will mark the first-ever official goodwill visit of a Chinese coast guard vessel to the Philippines — the same type of ship that controls Scarborough Shoal and is frequently reported for harassing Philippine government ships and fishermen in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
“Hindi po red carpet treatment ito. Sa diplomatic lingo, ito ay tinatawag nating diplomatic reciprocity. Tayo po nung inimbita tayo sa China ay binigyan tayo ng karapat-dapat na kortesiya. In the same vein, wala naman tayong opisyal na giyera sa China. Karapat-dapat lamang na bigyan po natin ng diplomatic reciprocity. Hindi po red carpet ‘yun,” he told reporters in a press briefing at the PCG headquarters in Manila.
(It’s not a red carpet treatment. In diplomatic lingo, we call this diplomatic reciprocity. When they invited us to China, they have given us the necessary courtesy. In the same vein, we are not on an official war with them. It’s only right that we give them diplomatic reciprocity. That’s not a red carpet [treatment]).
CCG vessel 5204 will dock at Manila’s South Harbor on Jan. 13.
On January 14, there will be a welcome ceremony for the CCG director general and a simulation of search and rescue and firefighting would be held later in the day. A sendoff for the ship was set on January 17.
Actual maritime exercises will also be held by midweek.
Garcia said the visit was based on a memorandum of agreement between the two coast guards in 2017.
The scheduled high-level meeting of the two coast guards will not only benefit both countries but other neighbors as well, he said.
One of the topics to be discussed is the arrangement on Scarborough Shoal, a small ring of reefs, located within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. Garcia said protocols at sea should be laid out so Philippine vessels and fishermen would not be harassed.
“Kung babalikan natin ang arbitral ruling, klarong-klaro na sinabi ng arbitral tribunal — ang China at Pilipinas hindi lang sa inyo ang isda kundi para sa lahat na user-countries… Dapat mag-usap talaga tayo para magkaroon ng happy ending hindi lang ang China at Pilipinas kung hindi para sa lahat,” Garcia said.
(If we look back on the arbitral ruling, it was clearly stated that that the shoal is not just for the Philippines and China but for all user-countries… We really need to talk so that it would be a happy ending not just for China and Philippines but for the rest.)
“Ang usapin next week ay hindi lang tungkol sa dalawang bansa. Kung ano magiging outcome or magkaka-template ng mechanism for safety of fishermen ay siya ring template na magagamit upang ihain sa Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan na nagke-claim sa lugar na yan,” he added.
(The meeting next week is not only about the two countries. Whatever the outcome is, or should there be a template for mechanism for safety of fishermen would also be offered to other claimants like Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan.)
China took control of the shoal in 2012 after a standoff, which later prompted Manila to file a case against Beijing in the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
The 2016 arbitral ruling declared the shoal as a common fishing ground and Beijing’s all-encompassing nine-dash line claims over the South China Sea is not valid. But China ignored the ruling and continues to control the shoal up to this day.