Senators hit latest China ship ‘incident’ within WPS

(BUSINESS MIRROR) MAJORITY and minority senators denounced the latest reported incident of aggression by China naval militia within the West Philippine Sea.

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada promptly deplored initial reports even as “we have yet to receive confirmation” from Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) or the Department of National Defense (DND) regarding the June 30 incident where China Coast Guard vessels allegedly shadowed elements of the PCG.

“Nonetheless, I am deeply concerned about the reported acts of aggression against the PCG vessels as this violates our sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as endangers the safety and security of our maritime forces,” the lawmaker lamented on Tuesday.

He said “these repeated provocations by Chinese vessels are unacceptable and violate international laws and norms.”

Estrada continued: “Our government has the sovereign right to enforce our laws and protect our marine resources within our territorial waters and any interference from foreign entities is a direct affront to our national interests.”

He then urged relevant agencies “to pursue all available legal and diplomatic avenues to address this issue and seek appropriate remedies,” reminding them “diplomatic channels should be utilized to convey our strong condemnation and demand for an immediate halt to these aggressive actions.”

Moreover, the senator stressed “the protection of our national interests and the safety of our PCG personnel are of paramount importance. We must not tolerate acts that threaten our national security and undermine our sovereignty.”

In a separate statement, Senator Risa Hontiveros deplored the recent incident involving Chinese Coast Guard pursuing PCG ships.

“China is reckless and irresponsible. Her continued attempts to illegally occupy our territories only demonstrate her complete disrespect of international law,” said the deputy minority leader.

Hontiveros reiterated her suggestion last week to elevate the issue to the United Nations, using as anchor the 2016 arbitral ruling that favored Manila in its complaints about Beijing’s “excessive” claims in the South China Sea.

“This is why it is crucial that the Philippine government raise the West Philippine Sea issue to the UN General Assembly,” she added, airing hopes that “the Senate can tackle my resolution regarding this as soon as session resumes, as we need the support of the wider international community to stop China’s unbridled aggression.”

Hontiveros added: “If the Chinese authoritarian regime truly wants to be the regional leader, she should act responsibly by de-escalating tensions in the region, instead of fanning the flames by engaging in these rash actions outside her territorial sea.”

At the same time, she said, “while pursuing political and diplomatic means to resolve this dispute, our defense establishment should simultaneously come up with alternate means to resupply our troops in Ayungin Shoal in order to secure them from harassment and interdiction by the Chinese.”