MANILA, Nov 24 (Mabuhay) — Senate President Vicente Sotto III expressed belief Wednesday that China is bullying the Philippines following the Ayungin Shoal incident.

In a television interview, Sotto said it is possible that the higher officials of China is aware of the incident, noting the radio warnings and monitoring activities being done in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

“I have a tendency to think that the upper ups of China knows about this, ‘di pwedeng sila-sila lang sa Chinese Coast Guard. Puwede rin na sila sila lang—gustong umepal nung mga coast guard nila… May mga pa-monitor monitor pa, and then we have this text na pinapadala ‘dun sa mga dumadating sa area, may mga radio warnings pa, alam nila ‘yan,” Sotto said.

“Medyo, I hate to say it but they’re practically bullying us, ‘yung sinasabi ng presidente nila ‘di daw sila nambubully ng maliit na bansa, e sino binu-bully nila? Malaking bansa? Takot nga sila dun e,” the vice presidential aspirant said.

Sotto said he felt “irritated and sad” when the Philippine vessels, which were on a resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal, were blocked and water cannoned by the Chinese Coast Guard.

“They are supposed to be our neighbors we should be friendly with our neighbors but what the Chinese Coast Guard is showing is that they do not have any regard for anything else except what they think is there property. So at this point, really, I already filed a bill that declares the maritime zones of the Philippines,” he said.

In June, Sotto filed Senate Bill 2289 which seeks to declare and define the Philippine maritime zone to protect the country’s sovereign rights and carry out maritime activities in its waters.

He said this bill would establish a map similar to China’s nine-dash line.

Sotto expressed hope that the House of Representatives would act on a counterpart bill of SB 2289 to have the measure passed before the end of the 18th Congress, as he vowed that the Senate will put their “best effort” in approving his proposed law.

While the bill is being lobbied in Congress, Sotto said he is open to passing a measure that would express the sense of the Senate which could “back up” the statements made by the Department of Foreign Affairs on the Ayungin Shoal incident.

In the same interview, Sotto reiterated the need to review the Mutual Defense Treaty and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement as it may send a signal to China that “we have a big brother that can help us in the area.”

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. had already conveyed “in the strongest terms” to Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian and his Chinese counterpart in Beijing the Philippines’ “outrage, condemnation and protest of the incident.”

Ayungin Shoal is part of the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) as well as the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, over which the Philippines has sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction.(MNS)

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