West Philippine Sea
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang expressed “serious concern” over reports that Chinese H-6K bomber aircraft are now stationed in the disputed islands in the South China Sea although it admitted that it has no verified information yet on the matter.
Despite this, Malacañang insists the ASEAN’s call to claimant countries in the South China Sea to stop their respective activities in the disputed territory to avoid further escalation of tension and maintain regional peace.
“We take note of the reports that appeared and we express our serious concerns anew on its impact on constructive efforts to maintain peace and stability in the region,” announced Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Monday, May 21.
Last weekend, President Rodrigo Duterte in his speech said he considers having a joint exploration and development in the disputed islands rather than waging war with China.
“We don’t have to fight. We can divide this in a joint development, a joint exploration. Then we’ll give you a bigger share rather than fight,” the President said in Cebuano.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano recently had a meeting with members of the U.S. Asia Pacific Command. Roque said such move was to show that the Philippines is giving high importance to its alliance with the US while opening doors to other countries like China, Russia, Australia, and Japan.
For its part, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) assures the Filipino citizens that it is doing its best to constantly monitor the situation and to protect the country’s sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea.
In fact, the Philippine government is planning to raise the issue of militarization in the area in the upcoming Bilateral Consultative Mechanism consultations with China.
Amid reports, Magdalo Party List Rep Gary Alejano sees a diplomatic protest against China as a way to make known to the global community the growing concern over China’s militarization in the South China Sea.
“If we allow militarization there, na tayo di nagre-raise ng (and we do not raise our) concern, then we are a part of the aggressive militarization of China. The Philippines should file a diplomatic protest because when you file a diplomatic protest, it’s saying to the whole world that we are concerned about the militarization, “ Alejano said. – Rosalie Coz / Marje Pelayo