By Priam Nepomuceno

BRP Sierra Madre (PNA file photo)

MANILA – National Security Council (NSC) Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya on Wednesday said they are still puzzled by the claims made by China that the Philippines has agreed to remove its ship, the BRP Sierra Madre (LST-57), from the Ayungin Shoal.

In a Laging Handa briefing, Malaya said everyone they have talked with regarding the matter — from the present to past administrations — has no idea of this claim of the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson last Aug. 7.

“Wala pong ganun ano, wala pong meeting, wala pong kasulatan na nilagdaan ng dalawang bansa na meron tayong ganung usapan (There is no such commitment, there is no meeting, no treaty or agreement signed by the two countries regarding such talks),” he added.

Malaya also said it is China’s duty to show proof or evidence of this claim.

He added that if Beijing will continue to assert this claim, it should identify the person or persons who promised them such.

Malaya also admitted that it is hard to comment on matters that have no basis.

“If China firmly believes na merong ganung kasunduan o pangako e sabihin nila kung sino nangako kasi baka naman ang nangako sa kanila ay hindi naman opisyal ng pamahalaan diba because I can categorically say to the public and to everyone na wala pong administrasyion na nangakong tatangalin yan because yan naman pong BRP Sierra Madre ay simbulo ng atin sovereign rights and jurisdiction over Ayungin Shoal (If China believes that there is such an agreement or promise, then they should identify the ones who promised them such. Maybe the one who gave them such a promise is not an official of the government because I can categorically say to the public and to everyone that no administration will agree to that because BRP Sierra Madre is the symbol of our sovereign rights and jurisdiction over Ayungin Shoal),” he added.

He said the BRP Sierra Madre was deployed and stationed in Ayungin Shoal in 1999 to show China that the Philippines has control over it. (PNA)