Valenzuela City legislator alerts DFA to double tight watch over China’s latest “provocative acts”

March 31, 2014 9:24 am 

By Sammy F. Martin

MANILA, Mar. 30 (PNA) — An administration legislator on Sunday urged the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to keep a tight watch on the recent provocative actions by China linked to the disputed territories on areas in and around the West Philippine Sea.

Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian is particularly wary of the fact that China could be taking a cue from Russia as far as dealing and resolving its maritime territorial conflict with the Philippines and its other Asian neighbors are concerned.

Gatchalian is referring to the recent move by Russia to annex Crimea a few days after it invaded the same purportedly to protect its Russian speaking citizens from the chaos, after former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted from power by his pro-western political foes.

Yanukovych who is backed by Moscow has maintained that he remains president of Ukraine and as a show of support Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his troops to seize Crimea.

Putin later legitimized the invasion by sponsoring a referendum that resulted to the majority of Crimeans voting in favor of bolting from Ukraine and instead joining the Russian federation.

The move was widely condemned by major western powers especially the United States but Putin remained defiant despite threats of massive economic, political and military sanctions from the international community.

Gatchalian pointed out that the similar openly aggressive and defiant actions that China is taking regarding the maritime dispute should be a cause of great concern especially for our foreign policy officials.

He issued the statements after receiving reports on recent incidents in Ayungin Shoal and in Bajo de Masinloc, also known as Panatag Shoal or Scarborough Shoal, located 118 nautical miles from the coast of Zambales province.

The Ayungin Shoal on the other hand lies just over a hundred miles from the Palawan coastline and is well within the Philippine baseline.

Last March 9, two civilian vessels contracted by the Philippine Navy to conduct troop rotation and resupply operations on Ayungin Shoal were reportedly followed, blocked, harassed and then turned away by Chinese Coast Guard (CCG).

Prior to that incident, last January 27, Filipino fishermen were also driven away by the CCG from Panatag Shoal, by using water cannons which was viewed by many as a clear act of aggression and provocation.

In both occasions, the Philippines’ protests were rejected by the Chinese Embassy citing that it has indisputable sovereignty over nearly 90 percent of entire South China Sea as part of its nine-dash line territorial claim.

The Valenzuela City solon warned that China might take a cue from Russia and could use its military might to enforce its claims and later justify its acts by invoking its inherent rights on its territorial claims.

“Let us remember that both China and Russia are major international players and they both have the capacity and the capability to change and shake up the current (world) order,” Gatchalian stressed.

“What also concerns me is that China opted to keep silent and refused to join the international community in condemning what Russia had done to Crimea,“ he added.

“While I admire our national leadership for choosing to thread the path of peace by filing formal complaints before the proper international tribunals, China’s somewhat uncooperative acts should serve as red flags for our foreign policy makers,” Gatchalian pointed out. (PNA)



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