Teodoro blasts China’s ‘hypocrisy’ for claiming BRP Sierra Madre causes harm in WPS
MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro on Saturday did not mince his words against China after it claimed that the BRP Sierra Madre causes “irrevocable harm” and pollution in the West Philippine Sea.
“The statement of China that the grounded Sierra Madre is causing irrevocable harm is to put it as politely as possible — hypocritical,” Teodoro said in a statement.
“Talk about the pot calling the kettle black,” he added.
On Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said that if the government “truly cares” about the WPS, it should tow away the Philippine Navy ship that is grounded in Ayungin Shoal, claiming that it discharges polluted water and causes “irrevocable harm” to the ocean.
The World War II-era warship, situated in a low-tide elevation about 194 kilometers off Palawan province within the country’s exclusive economic zone, has hosted a small contingent of military personnel since 1999.
China made the response following accusations that the suspected Chinese maritime militias are behind the destruction of the corals in Rozul Reef.
“Disingenuous propaganda lines such as this only serve to expose China’s insincerity and will only heighten the mistrust by the Filipino people and the rest of the world of the Chinese Government,” Teodoro added.
Teodoro, who had considered the possibility that the harvested corals in Rozul Reef may be used for reclamation, also blasted China’s “illegal reclamation activities” in the disputed maritime zones.
“It was found to be a violator of international law in the 2016 Arbitral Award when such activities damaged the marine environment,” he said of China’s artificial islands.
China asserts that it owns almost all of the areas in the South China Sea, including the WPS through its ten-dash line.
But the Philippines challenged the then nine-dash line before the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which invalidated Beijing’s sweeping demarcation in 2016.