Scarborough patrol shows Philippines resolve to defend sovereignty
MANILA, Philippines—A presidential aide said Saturday the deployment of the BRP Rajah Humabon—the country’s old and only warship—to patrol the seas near the Scarborough Shoal was meant to show the country’s resolve in defending its sovereignty over what it considers undisputed Philippine territory.
“It’s a way of saying that this is ours,” said Ramon Carandang, head of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office.
Carandang said that while the Philippines wants a diplomatic and peaceful resolution to the dispute over rival territorial claims, it is asserting its sovereignty over its territories.
“We may be small country but we will do whatever we can to defend our sovereignty…. Whatever capabilities we have, no matter how big or small, we’re going to assert our sovereignty,” Carandang said in an interview.
The only World War II-era destroyer still in active service, the Humabon’s patrol of the Scarborough Shoal in waters off Zambales came after Beijing sent Haixun 31, a helicopter-equipped 3,000-ton maritime patrol ship, on a voyage that will see it pass through the West Philippine Sea, the name the Aquino government has given the South China Sea.
The Humabon’s displacement is only 1,390 tons. Acquired in December 1978 and commissioned by the Philippine Navy in February 1980, the Humabon is the Philippines only warship.
The Scarborough is one of the territories in the West Philippine Sea that the Chinese government claims as part of its territory.
In a news briefing over the government radio station dzRB, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said Malacañang expected China to continue supporting a peaceful and diplomatic settlement of the issue, which also involves overlapping claims by Vietnam and Taiwan.
Valte made the remarks after President Benigno Aquino said the Philippines “will not be pushed around because we are a tiny state compared to (China).”
Aquino reiterated the country’s right to explore its seas despite China’s claims.
“Our statements have always been very clear in such that our approach is a rules-based settlement of the dispute and that we are seeking a multilateral approach to the dispute resolution,” Valte said.
“But I think our counterparts in China are saying the same thing…. there will be no use of force and they also want a diplomatic means to come up with a peaceful resolution of the problem,” she added.
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