DFA urged: Summon Chinese ambassador over coast guard law
MANILA, Philippines — After firing off a diplomatic protest, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) should consider summoning China’s top diplomat in the Philippines over Beijing’s new law allowing its coast guard to fire at foreign vessels, Senator Francis Tolentino said Sunday.
“Tama yung nag-file ng diplomatic protest si [Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.], pero siguro ang next step niyan ay i-summon yung, ipatawag yung Chinese ambassador para ipaliwanag,” Tolentino said in an interview over dzBB.
(It was right for Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. to file that diplomatic protest, but the next step is to summon the Chinese ambassador to explain.)
According to Tolentino, the Chinese ambassador should be made to explain why China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) is seemingly rushing the adoption of the coast guard law.
The said law allows the Chinese Coast Guard to “take all necessary measures, including the use of weapons when national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed upon by foreign organizations or individuals at sea.”
It would also allow personnel of the Chinese Coast Guard to “demolish” other countries’ structures built on China-claimed reefs and to board and inspect vessels in waters claimed by China.
Tolentino noted that the NPC was scheduled to convene its session in March. The coast guard law, however, was passed last Jan. 22.
“Nakakagulat dito, yung National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China, ay nagko-convene lang ‘pag Marso, wala pang Marso, talagang inuna nila yan, minadali nila,” he said.
(What’s surprising is that the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China only convenes during March, and it’s not yet March, but they made this a priority. They rushed it.)
“Ipapatawag [ang Chinese ambassador]. Ipagpaliwanag bakit ang Kongreso niyo—nagmi-meet ‘yan March—Inunahan na ito. E wala pang March, minadali ito. Ipaliwanag din yung epekto sa ating mga mangingisda,” he went on.
(The Chinese ambassador should be summoned. He should explain why their Congress, which convenes in March, they preceded that. It’s not yet March. We should then explain to him the law’s effect to our fishermen.)
Furthermore, Tolentino also proposed that DFA also summon the Philippines’ ambassador to China to explain why it had failed to alert the Philippine government that such a law was being drafted in Beijing.
“Bakit hindi niyo na-monitor na meron palang nakaamba—kung sikreto man o hindi—na batas?” he said.
(Why were you not able to monitor–even if it’s a secret or not–that there’s a forthcoming law like this?)
If the Philippine government was alerted, Tolentino said the topic could have been included in the discussions between Locsin and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during the latter’s visit to Manila last Jan. 15 to 16.
“Kung naging listo lamang yung, hindi ko sinisisi yung ating embahada sa Beijing baka hindi nila alam, kung naging listo lang, nung pagpunta ng foreign minister dito ng China, e napag-usapan na na ‘Uy Mr. Minister, meron pala kayong planong ganito, totoo po ba ito? E may epekto rin sa aming mga kababayan ito at sa ating relasyon’,” the senator said.
(If they have been alerted, not that I’m blaming them, but if they would have been alerted, when China’s foreign minister visited the Philippines, this could have been discussed like: ‘Mr Minister, you have this law planned, is this true? This would affect our countrymen and our relationship.’)
Last week, Locsin filed a diplomatic protest over its new coast guard law, which the foreign affairs chief saw as a “a verbal threat of war to any country that defies” it.
Locsin had fired off the diplomatic protest after a “reflection” following his tweet that the passage of the China law was “none of our business.”
Some senators, including Tolentino, have already sounded the alarm over China’s new law with Senator Richard Gordon describing it as a “creeping threat that can escalate any time.”
Tolentino said he worries for Filipino fishermen, who are possibly still not aware of this legislation recently adopted in Beijing.
China claims nearly the entire South China Sea, including waters within the exclusive economic zones of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines (the West Philippine Sea), Vietnam, and Taiwan.
In July 2016, the Philippines sealed a historic win against China before the United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, which invalidated China’s nine-dash line claim, a ruling that Beijing refuses to recognize.