Senators criticize China for West Philippine Sea harassment

(ABS-CBN News) Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senator Jinggoy Estrada on Saturday expressed their disapproval of the latest incident in the West Philippine Sea, during which the Chinese Coast Guard once again executed dangerous maneuvers against Philippine resupply ships bound for the Ayungin Shoal.

In a statement, Zubiri strongly condemned the CCG’s actions and accused China of behaving like “a bully.”

“We again see China as a bully: using size and brute strength to illegally encroach upon our EEZ and enforce a baseless right to drive away our protectors,” he said.

“But water cannons and blockades will not dampen the will and resolve of our Navy and our Coast Guard to protect our exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea,” he added.

He also emphasized that China could not keep calling their actions defensive given that their vessels were larger and more advanced than the Philippine vessels.

“We remind the Chinese Coast Guard that no amount of aggression can undo the fact that the Chinese government’s claims to the WPS have already been invalidated by the Permanent Court of Arbitration,” he said.

Zubiri commended the Philippine Navy and Coast Guard’s efforts to protect the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

“Bear in mind that your Philippine Senate is behind you 100%,” said Zubiri.

Meanwhile, Senator Jinggoy Estrada recommended the Senate consider the adopted Senate Resolution No. 79, which recommended the filing a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly calling for a cessation of all activities that violate the Philippines’ rights in the West Philippine Sea.

He added that the Senate had passed a resolution calling out the harassment and unlawful practices of China in the area.

“China should be made to stop its illegal activities. Recent developments involving China’s unlawful acts and increasing aggression against our vessels are leaving us with no other recourse but to take appropriate action in asserting and securing our sovereign rights over our exclusive economic zone,” he said.

“Sa hindi na mabilang na insidente sa WPS, hindi ni minsan tayo gumawa ng mga hakbang gaya ng mga pambu-bully nila sa atin. At minsan na rin nasabi ni Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, sa isang virtual forum ng Chinese Embassy sa Manila noong January 17, na: “This is not a proper way for neighbors to treat each other,’” he added.

(In incidents too numerous to count, we never took any action similar to their bullying. And Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi himself said in a January 17 Chinese Embassy virtual forum said, “This is not a proper way for neighbors to treat each other.”

The Philippines on Friday accused the Chinese Coast Guard of firing water a cannon at a boat carrying provisions to Filipino troops on a remote outpost in the West Philippine Sea.

“CCG vessel 5203 deployed water cannon against Philippine supply vessel M/L Kalayaan in an illegal though unsuccessful attempt to force the latter to alter course,” a Philippine government task force said in a statement.

“We condemn, once again, China’s latest unprovoked acts of coercion and dangerous maneuvers against a legitimate and routine Philippine rotation and resupply mission.” — DVM, GMA Integrated News