Malacañang told: Put foot down and speak up vs China's aggression in WPS | Global News

Malacañang told: Put foot down and speak up vs China’s aggression in WPS

By: - Reporter / @BPinlacINQ
/ 03:27 PM April 28, 2023

Pag-asa Island, part of the Kalayaan municipality in the West Philippine Sea

FILE PHOTO: Members of the Philippine Navy plant the Philippine flag on one of four sandbars rising from the sea within the territorial waters of Pag-asa Island, part of the Kalayaan municipality in the West Philippine Sea. China claims the sandbars, sending its coast guard to keep Filipinos away from the emerging islands. —MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

MANILA, Philippines — “What is Malacañang waiting for?”

Senator Risa Hontiveros had this to say as she urged Malacañang on Friday to put its foot down and speak up against the continuous aggression of China in the West Philippine Sea.


She made the call after a Chinese coast guard ship cut off a Philippine patrol vessel carrying journalists near the Ayungin Shoal, causing a near-collision.


READ: Chinese, Philippine vessels in ‘David and Goliath’ near-crash

“This was just the latest in a continuous, unbroken, and apparently unrepentant string of incidents that China should be accountable for,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

She called on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to file a diplomatic protest over the incident – a card that had been frequently pulled by the Philippines in response to China’s unrelenting harassment of Filipinos in the contested waters.

“Simultaneously, Malacañang should condemn, in the strongest terms, China’s ceaseless intimidation, torment, and threats. The executive should not wait for an even worse incident in order to finally put its foot down and tell Beijing to cease and desist from this kind of aggressive action. What is the Palace waiting for? That a Filipino would die from this?” Hontiveros said partly in Filipino.

The opposition senator said it would be the right course of action to “actively and boldly continue in the direction of building bigger alliances.”

“A broader alliance is a better alliance,” Hontiveros said. “Let us urgently work on building this bigger coalition of countries who are against China’s misbehavior, who uphold our victory at the Hague, and who want to preserve peace and stability in the region.”

The United States and Australia are among the states who have repeatedly called on China to obey the 2016 arbitral ruling invalidating Beijing’s historic claims in nearly all of the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.


READ: International support building up for sea row ruling vs China – Del Rosario

Hontiveros also called for a thorough review of the Philippines’ policy towards China.

“They’re making it a daily affair to bully our people. We need a policy that would ensure genuine defense of the rights and livelihood of Filipinos,” she said.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III pressed for all countries with claims in the South China Sea to join forces in creating a Code of Conduct when resolving issues over the disputed waters.

“Otherwise there will always be incidents like this where one party will appear to be a ‘Goliath’ because it is, in reality, a giant country, and be labeled as a bully. It is in the best interest of all parties to start behaving like civilized, respectful, and reasonable neighbors,” he told reporters in a message.

Pimentel further noted: “Start dialogue. Aim to make concrete gains, no matter how small.”

Senator Ronald dela Rosa had likewise decried China’s “bullying” but then asked: “What else can we do?”

“Hundreds of diplomatic protests have been raised by our government but were just ignored by China. We cannot afford to fire the first shot that would trigger a shooting war,” he said in a separate message.

Instead, dela Rosa advised the Philippine Coast Guard “to maximize their escape and evasion tactics and remember always that patience is a virtue.”

The Philippines’ maritime dispute with China has soured the two nations’ ties for decades.

Since 2016, the Philippines has filed 461 diplomatic protests over Beijing’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea.

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But according to the DFA, from 2020 to 2022, the Chinese Embassy has only responded to around 71 percent of the note verbales or diplomatic protests.

READ: PH files 461 diplomatic protests vs China since 2016, says DFA

TAGS: 2016 arbitral ruling, China, Malacañang Palace, West Philippine Sea

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