Panatag Shoal could be part of PROC internal squabble – Kiko

April 25, 2012

Tempo
April 25, 2012

Manila, Philippines – The Philippines should not allow itself to be drawn as unwitting pawns in the internal affairs of the People’s Republic of China (PROC) as its incursions into the Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal could be politically motivated.

This was the advice of Senator Francis Pangilinan who said the PROC is currently embroiled in a leadership scandal at the highest levels of its communist party.

Scarborough shoal is concededly far nearer to the Philippines than to China.

“We must tread very carefully. The current tension in the West Philippine Sea could become a very convenient diversion by fanning the flames of nationalist fanaticism in China,’’ Panglinan said.

“We should not allow ourselves to be scapegoats in a brewing internal controversy. We must exercise restraint,’’ he added.

This developed as senators threw their support to a Malacañang move to formally notify Washington of the bullying tactics being employed by China in its territorial claim over the Scarborough shoal.

Since the Philippines has no capability to repel Chinese aggression and other external threats, the Philippines has no option than to seek US help, Sen. Gregorio Honasan II, vice chairman of the Senate national defense committee, said.

LYING?

CAMP AQUINO, Tarlac City – The chief of the Armed Forces’ Northern Luzon Command (NoLCom) on accused China yesterday of “not telling the truth” when it claimed it had withdrawn its vessels from the disputed shoal.

A statement from the Chinese embassy on Monday said the Yuzheng 310, China’s most advanced fishery patrol vessel – which is armed and has a helipad – and the surveillance ship CMS 84 had left Panatag, where the Philippines and China have been engaged in a standoff that has entered its second week.

The standoff was triggered by attempts of the Philippine Navy flagship BRP Gregorio del Pilar to take into custody eight Chinese fishing vessels loaded with contraband marine products.

Citing field reports, Alcantara said that as of 8 p.m. Monday, the Yuzheng 310 had been spotted about eight nautical miles southeast of the shoal.

“We’re not doubting their claims; we’re telling them they are not telling the truth,” Lieutenant-General Anthony J. Alcantara, NoLCom chief, said.

Reports from NoLCom said another Chinese surveillance ship, CMS 71, has been spotted 12 nautical miles southeast of the location of the BRP Pampanga, the Coast Guard vessel in the area. (InterAksyon.com)

CAN’T CONQUER

Alcantara boldly declared yesterday that China could not conquer Panatag Shoal, saying the Armed Forces (AFP) is prepared for any aggression in the disputed territory.

Facing a media forum for the first time since the start of the standoff over the shoal, Alcantara also accused China of “not telling the truth” when it claimed it withdrew two of its ships from the area. Contrary to this, he noted there are at present seven Chinese vessels at the disputed shoal.

Speaking before a defense media forum held at the NoLCom headquarters in Camp Servillano A. Aquino, San Miguel, Tarlac, Alcantara warned China that the AFP is prepared to defend Philippine sovereignty.

“It’s a categorical statement that we are prepared,” Alcantara said with the assurance to the Filipino people that China would not be able to conquer the disputed shoal. (Elena L. Aben)

RELUCTANT

Malacañang is reluctant to support the proposed higher taxes or total ban of China-made products supposedly in protest of Beijing’s intrusion into the country’s territory.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte expressed concern that such congressional proposal might only add tension to the territorial rift between the Philippines and China, which the government wants to be resolved through diplomatic and peaceful means.

“It is not the interest of both countries to take any action that will further aggravate the situation,” Valte said.

House Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez recently proposed a total ban on imported products from China to protest the alleged bullying of the Asian giant.

Citizens Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna, on the other hand, sought for higher duties on these China-made items, adding the Bureau of Customs could already impose stricter importation standards. (Genalyn D. Kabiling)

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