By Zaldy De Layola
MANILA – The government must keep its diplomatic protests against China’s acts of aggression and harassment in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) alive, according to House Deputy Speaker Ralph Recto on Sunday.
“These Chinese abuses in the WPS should be met with indignation at every turn because not to do so would play into Beijing’s game plan that the Philippines would eventually tire out from protesting,” Recto said in a news release.
The Batangas Sixth District congressman said the Philippines must continue to blow the whistle of protest against China even if it would not listen.
“Even if we have to wallpaper the Great Wall with diplomatic protests, we should continue because once we show any sign of wavering, it normalizes China’s misbehavior inside our territory,” he said.
The protest, be it by the government or the people themselves, is like a “burglar alarm” that goes off when it is tipped and would make the whole world know about China’s misbehavior, according to Recto.
“Bad thing is if we turn it off. [So] we must carry it on and on,” he said.
On Friday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) criticized China over its recent “highly dangerous maneuvers” against the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in the waters off Ayungin Shoal.
In a statement, DFA spokesperson Ma. Teresita Daza reiterated Manila’s call on China to respect the country’s rights over the WPS as stated in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The DFA will file another round of diplomatic protests against Beijing.
The PCG spotted over 100 alleged Chinese maritime militia vessels, a People’s Liberation Army Navy corvette, and two China Coast Guard vessels throughout a seven-day maritime patrol in the WPS.
The PCG said two 44-meter PCG vessels — BRP Malapascua and BRP Malabrigo – were on patrol from April 18 to 24 in the waters off Sabina Shoal, Iroquis Reef, Lawak, Patag, Likas, Parola, Pag-asa, Tizzard Bank, Julian Felipe Reef, and Ayungin Shoal.
Last year, 193 note verbales on WPS incidents were filed by the DFA before the Chinese embassy.
Meanwhile, Senator Francis Tolentino said he favors an international consortium on oil explorations in the WPS, but all actions must be in accordance with the constitution.
Next month, China and the Philippines will begin exploratory talks on joint oil explorations.
Tolentino said China should not worry about the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement under the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the United States but should instead consider the economic stability of the region.
“Maunawaan nila ang 1951 MDT, wala pang cybercrime, climate change. Lahat ng ito ay kasama sa mga nagbabagong kundisyon dapat i-consider sa ekonomiya (They must understand that when the MDT was signed in 1951, there was no cybercrime, no climate change. These are conditions that they must consider as economic concerns) under the freedom of navigation),” Tolentino said in a radio interview on Sunday.
The senator is likewise pushing to amend the treaty to include cyber attack.
The MDT was signed to strengthen “present efforts for collective defense for the preservation of peace and security pending the development of a more comprehensive system of regional security in the Pacific area” without “altering or diminishing any existing agreements or understandings between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America.” (With a report from Leonel Abasola/PNA)