Teodoro asks China after barrier removal: Is that a provocation already?
MANILA, Philippines— Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro on Wednesday refuted China’s claim that Philippines is the one provoking trouble in Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal).
“Provocation na ba yun sa kanila? Ano ba ang provocation? Yung paglalagay ng barrier or pagtatangal ng illegal na harang?” Teodoro asked in an interview in Senate.
(Is that a provocation already for them? What is provocation? Is it the placement of a barrier or the removal of an illegal obstruction?)
“Hindi naman tayo nag stir ng trouble. Hindi naman tayo ang kumukupkop e. Yan yung hindi nila maintindihan e, ang propaganda nila na ginagamit e. Lalong lalo na, ayan ha. Banta na yan…” he said.
(We’re not the ones stirring up trouble. We’re not the ones occupying the area. That’s what they don’t understand, the propaganda they’re using. Especially now, that’s already a threat…)
The defense chief was asked about China’s call on Philippines on Tuesday “not to make provocation or stir up trouble.”
This, after the Philippine Coast Guard removed the floating barriers installed by China in the southeast entrance of Scarborough Shoal.
Teodoro maintained there is really an intent on the part of China to control South China Sea.
This is undeniable, he said, with China’s ongoing reclamation in the disputed waters and harassments of Filipino fishermen.
Despite this, Teodoro said, Philippines has no intention of going to war with China.
“Ayaw nating awayin ang China. Ayaw natin ang giyera. Pero ang teritoryo natin, kailangang angkinin natin at ang mga sovereign rights dito dahil hindi atin ito, para sa kinabukasan ito. Kelangan ng bansa natin ito…” he said.
(We don’t want to fight with China. We don’t want war. But we need to assert our territories and sovereign rights here because this is not for us but for our future. Our country needs this…)
“Kailangan tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang pakikipag usap pero pakikipag usap na hindi naman tayo titigil sa gawain natin na maisasahan lang tayo at kailangang maliwanag ang basehan ng pakikipag-usap,” he further said.
This is why, he said, Philippines is planning for contingencies to prepare for any eventuality.
“Pero liwanagin ko ayaw ko ng gyera o pakikipaglaban,” Teodoro said.
“Kung may maganda at prinsipyado na usapan na pwede dito na sumasang-ayon sa batas ng Pilipinas at international law, yun ang dapat na solution,” he pointed out.
(But let me make it clear, I don’t want war or confrontation. If there’s a good and principled discussion based on Philippine laws and international law, that should be the solution.)
Teodoro and other defense officials were in Senate to defend their proposed budget for 2024 amounting to P229.9 billion.