China to use Recto Bank incident to check Phl reaction when similar incident happens in WPS

Maris Federez   •   June 19, 2019   •   4001

A lawmaker believes that what happened in Recto Bank (or Reed Bank) is connected with the territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea (or South China Sea).

Senator Panfilo Lacson said he received information that the incident is China’s means to check on how the Philippines will react.

“Not from a local source na hindi ko tinanong kung ano ang basis. Ang sinasabi doon is it was a test of how far back we can go. Kasi kung alam nilang urong tayo ng urong, sulong sila ng sulong,” Lacson added.

Lacson said the report he received showed that a Chinese Militia vessel rammed the Filipino fishing boat.

China had claimed almost the entire South China Sea based on the Nine-Dash Line Theory it adopted.

It also showed interest on Recto or Reed Bank as the area is rich in oil and gas deposits.

The senator said the country can always use the Mutual Defense Treaty it has with the United States to prevent China’s bullying at the West Philippine Sea.

Lacson said this is a means to maintain balance of power.

“I’m not saying we implement it. Pero hihintayin pa ba nating magkaroon ng armed attack? Lalong escalation yun. Mas maganda na ginamit natin yung treaty to act proactively,” he reiterates.

Lacson also called out Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo for his seeming partiality with China and for not taking sides with the Filipino fishermen whose lives were thrown in danger.

To which, Panelo was quick to respond, pointing out that what the senator was saying was far from the truth.

He also stressed that President Duterte is not taking China’s side.

“The President is a thinking, cautious and responsible President. Not an irresponsible and reckless President that others would (label) him to be,“ Panelo said.

He added, “I’m echoing the line of the President when he says let us wait for the final findings of facts of the investigation being conducted by both countries.” (with reports from Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

Chinese Embassy slams Hontiveros over reparation claims for damages in West Philippine Sea

Marje Pelayo   •   April 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Chinese Embassy did not take kindly Senator Risa Hontiveros’ claims that China owes the Philippines at least P200-B in reparations for the ecological damage it has caused the West Philippines Sea reef system during the past six years of its reclamation activities.

Hontiveros, a staunch critic of the Duterte administration, said such amount could be used to help affected families and improve the country’s healthcare system amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Her claims, she said, was based on a study conducted by the University of the Philippines (UP) Marine Science Institute.

In response, the Chinese Embassy called such remarks by Hontiveros as ‘ridiculously absurd and irresponsible’ and was made “for the sole purpose of catching eyeballs and for selfish political gains.”

The Embassy added that “China and the Philippines are friendly neighbors across the sea” and so the latter commits “to continue to provide our support and assistance” to the Philippines.

Hontiveros, on the other hand, said: “It is more absurd and irresponsible to see that, indeed, in the middle of a global pandemic, China has continued to aggressively violate Philippine sovereignty in the region.”

Hontiveros added that China cannot claim to be a friendly ‘neighbor across the sea’ when it has continued its land reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea.

“Friends help each other out, not occupy their islands and destroy their reefs,” the lady senator argued.

READ: DFA files two diplomatic protests against China

On Wednesday (April 22), the Philippines filed two diplomatic protest against China – one for its creation of new districts in the disputed territory in the WPS and for its alleged pointing of a radar gun at a Philippine Navy ship in Philippine waters, as confirmed by Foreign Affairs Teddy Locsin Jr. MNP (with inputs from Harlene Delgado)

PH-US Mutual Defense Treaty now reduced to mere paper treaty after VFA termination – Lacson

Robie de Guzman   •   February 11, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the Philippines and the United States “will now be reduced to a mere paper treaty” with the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Senator Panfilo Lacson said Tuesday.

“Like it or not, bad or good, nothing much can be done now but do a 180-day countdown upon receipt of the notice by Washington,” Lacson said in a statement.

“What is certain is that the 1951 PH-US Mutual Defense Treaty will now be reduced to a mere paper treaty as far as the US is concerned,” he added.

Lacson made the statement after the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) signed and sent a notice formally scrapping the VFA to the United States.

The MDT was signed by Washington and Manila in 1951 where both parties agreed to support each other in case of an armed attack.

The VFA, on the other hand, came into force in 1999. It outlines the guidelines about the treatment of their troops when visiting the US or the Philippines.

It includes provisions on visa and passport policies for US troops and the American government’s right to retain jurisdiction over its personnel, among others.

The deal may be terminated by either of the two countries by writing to the other party signifying their intent to end the agreement. Its expiration will come 180 days from the date of notification.

“Having said that, there’s no more intelligence information sharing in our fight against domestic and foreign terrorist acts, no more US military aid and financing that accounts for a good 52% of what they extend to the whole Asia-Pacific region,” Lacson said.

“That may not include other intangible economic benefits and security from external threats in the West Philippine Sea, as well as humanitarian aid in times of disasters, epidemics and other crises,” he added.

Lacson and other senators earlier filed a resolution asking President Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider his plan to scrap the VFA while the Senate reviews it.

Duterte in January threatened to terminate the deal following the US’ move to cancel the visa of his ally, former National Police chief and now Senator Ronald Dela Rosa.

PHL, Chinese Coast Guard hold joint maritime drills in Manila

Robie de Guzman   •   January 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Coast Guard and Chinese Coast Guard on Wednesday conducted joint maritime drills on search and rescue and combating fire at sea in the waters off the Philippine capital.

In a statement, the PCG said participating Filipino and Chinese personnel were given a scenario involving a vessel that caught fire while transiting Manila waters.

In response, the PCG deployed its 44-meter multi-role response vessel 4401, BRP Tubbataha, while the Chinese team dispatched vessel 5204. Both ships were equipped with water cannons used in firefighting assistance.

Five passengers and eight crew aboard the distressed ship were also rescued using rigid hull inflatable boats with rescue swimmers to aid the victims.

The PCG said the drill allows coast guard personnel to exercise interoperability and strengthen their capabilities in responding to such crises.

The joint maritime drills on search and rescue, and combating fire at sea are part of the week-long activities of Chinese Coast Guard’s port call in Manila.

The visit aims to strengthen understanding, mutual trust, and cooperation between the Philippines and China Coast Guard in a bid to promote maritime security and maritime law enforcement amid the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea.

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