Palace disagrees China using COVID-19 crisis to advance territorial ambitions
MANILA, Philippines — While saying it will consider the suggestion to go on a joint patrol with other claimant states in the South China Sea, Malacañang said Tuesday it does not agree with the observation that China is taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to ramp up its activities over the disputed waters.
It was retired Senior Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio who said the Philippines should join forces with Malaysia and Vietnam to counter China, which appeared to use the coronavirus crisis to advance its territorial ambitions in the South China Sea.
“Suggestion well-taken, although we do not agree po with the personal opinions of Justice Carpio on what China is doing. But the suggestion on joint patrol is well-taken, it will be considered,” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in an online press conference.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also earlier reportedly accused China of pushing its territorial ambitions while its Southeast Asian counterparts grappled in addressing the coronavirus pandemic.
Roque reiterated that the government will assert its sovereign rights over its national territory against China.
“We do not agree with that conclusion, although the current policy is that we will defend all our national territory and our sovereign rights,” he said.
Earlier, the Philippines lodged two diplomatic protests concerning China’s alleged pointing of a radar gun at a Philippine Navy ship, and the establishment of two administrative units covering Philippine territories as part of the disputed South China Sea.
China has been insisting that its nine-dash claim showed that it owns the entire South China Sea.
This claim, however, had been rejected as without basis by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2016.
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