Locsin blames US for loss of Panatag shoal to China
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. blamed the United States Obama administration for why the Philippines lost control of Panatag (Scarborough Shoal) off Zambales province to China, in 2012.
Locsin, who left for Washington D.C., over the weekend, raised the point while debating over Twitter with a maritime analyst over the impact to Philippine national security should President Duterte terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement with the US.
Locsin recalled that the Philippines withdrew from Panatag Shoal to end the weeks-long standoff with China upon former US President Barack Obama’s intervention.
However when China did not reciprocate and instead has since stationed ships in the rich fishing grounds, the US did not raise a howl. “Obama said, ‘Oh well such is life.’ And it’s never left. Thanks America. Everybody acknowledges the US cost us that reef,” Locsin said in a tweet directed at Gregory Poling, director of the think tank Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative.
Poling countered by saying China would have turned Panatag Shoal into another artificial island, like it did with other occupied features within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea, had it not been for Obama’s intervention with Chinese President Xi Jingping.
“When China sent a barge of sand to Bajo de Masinloc in 2016 it was a US flyby and Obama intervention with Xi that turned them back,” Poling tweeted, using Panatag Shoal’s other local name.
He said “the only thing keeping China from tearing the Sierra Madre off Ayungin or building on Bajo de Masinloc is the US Mutual Defense Treaty.” INQ
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.