Latest Stories

Gazmin calls for formal protest of Chinese naval patrol of disputed territories


Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Friday the Philippines should formally protest China’s reported new policy on patrolling the South China Sea as security experts viewed as a serious concern China’s threat to board and expel vessels that enter areas it claims to be part of its territory.

“That’s not a good statement from China. We will just have to see what we can do to avoid this situation where they will be boarding our ships. Maybe at this point we need to file right away a protest. Let’s do the diplomatic and legal action on this,” Gazmin told reporters following the rites commemorating the 149th birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio at the Philippine Army’s headquarters at Fort Bonifacio.

Defense spokesperson Peter Paul Galvez said Gazmin’s recommendation would be “the action once (the new border patrol rule) is made official” by a statement from the Chinese government itself.

On Thursday, China’s state-run media reported that China will allow its police in the southern Chinese province of Hainan to board, seize control, or expel foreign ships that “illegally enter” Chinese waters.

The reports said the new rule would take effect on Jan. 1.

As of late Friday afternoon, Galvez said the Department of National Defense continued to “gather more information” regarding China’s reported new border patrol rule.

“We are waiting for an official statement from the Chinese government. That will be something that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will clarify,” Galvez said.

For security experts, however, China’s aggressive moves to assert its sovereignty over disputed territories are taking shape as a national security concern for the Philippines but it would not spell war between the two countries.

Before China’s state-run media reported the new border patrol rule, China issued new passports bearing a map of China that includes disputed islands in the South China Sea as part of its territory.

“It will create a national security problem because China is already adamant in pursuing its interests,” Prof. Chester Cabalza of the National Defense College of the Philippines  told the Inquirer by phone, when asked about the national security implications on the Philippines of China’s new border patrol rule.

In a separate interview, Dr. Gloria Jumamil-Mercado, a former senior adviser to the National Security Adviser, said she shared Cabalza’s view that China’s new border patrol rule was a national security issue.

Mercado, currently the dean of the graduate school of the Development Academy of the Philippines, is a trustee of several non-government organizations focusing on development and security.

“In the context of the definition of national security, it is about the security of the state and human security. We are talking about territorial integrity of the state and its impact on the welfare of the people,” Mercado told the Inquirer by phone.

But both Mercado and Cabalza, who have studied China extensively, said China would not go to war with the Philippines.

“I don’t believe China will go to war for the West Philippine Sea. China would not do something to risk their economic gains,” said Mercado, who has a doctorate degree in Mainland China Studies.

Instead, Cabalza said, what is developing is a battle of strategies, with China making sure that it leaves the other claimants “in awe” of what it does.

“It greatly impacts on us because the Philippines’ strategy is to use international legal instruments. It’s all we can do. We cannot contain China’s maritime strength,” said Cabalza, a fellow in China’s National Defense University.

To put things in context, Mercado said the latest developments in the West Philippine Sea should also be viewed from how China has dealt with its Cross-Straits relations with Taiwan.

When Taiwain’s democratic movement was gaining ground, China issued white papers, petitions, and even conducted a test-missile exercise in the Taiwan Strait, she said.

It has always been China’s strategy to flex its muscles even when dealing with Taiwan, Mercado said.

Defense spokesperson Galvez said he “cannot define” the situation as a national security concern just yet.

“I might be reacting too much. This (border patrol rule) might be a speculation by a Chinese official. We haven’t heard from Chinese government itself,” Galvez said.

Nonetheless, Galvez said the Philippine government would continue to “enforce our maritime policies in our own UNCLOS (UN Convention on the Law of the Sea) defined territory.”

“Any country has a right to protect their own territorial waters and the DND continues to do the same together with the Philippine Coast Guard,” Galvez said.

Galvez also appealed to the claimant-countries in the disputed territories to be more circumspect in issuing statements “as responsible members of the international community and should avoid aggravating the situation.”

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Foreign affairs , News , South China sea , territorial disputes

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. Massive infra spending set
  5. OFW brings MERS virus to Philippines
  6. DOJ to NBI: Arrest Cedric Lee, 4 others
  7. Cardinal Tagle to faithful: Join politics to clean it
  8. Estrada, Gigi Reyes denied access to evidence from other respondents
  9. Lacson’s wife loses diamond earring to thieves but recovers jewelry quickly with police arrest
  10. DOJ orders arrest of Cedric Lee
  1. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  2. MH370 co-pilot made mid-flight phone call – report
  3. Netizens cry: 6/55 Lotto was rigged
  4. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  5. ‘Wife of Jesus’ theory papyrus not fake – Harvard study
  6. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  7. Gay college instructor arrested for oral sex with student
  8. ‘King’ Yabut and I: Driver bares Makati dad ‘abuses’
  9. It was difficult having Japanese blood
  10. Palace: We can’t blame increase in population on Vitangcol
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Pork payoffs to newscasters Erwin Tulfo, Del Prado, others bared
  4. UP back on top as ‘average’ student aces bar
  5. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  6. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  7. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  8. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  9. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  10. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’


  • Nebraska toddler gets stuck inside claw machine
  • Philippine eagle rescued by Army turned over to DENR
  • Gunmen attack Iraq military base, kill 10 soldiers
  • South Korea president shouted down by distraught parents
  • Classmates celebrating 60th birthday among missing in ferry sinking
  • Sports

  • Nadal passes clay landmark with 300th victory
  • Wawrinka waltzes through with Monte Carlo walkover
  • Power Pinays smash India in Asian Women’s Club volleyball opener
  • PH youth boxers off to stumbling start in AIBA World tilt
  • Durant has 42, Thunder beat Pistons 112-111
  • Lifestyle

  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • This is not just a farm
  • Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  • Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  • Entertainment

  • Jones, Godard, Cronenberg in competition at Cannes
  • Will Arnett files for divorce from Amy Poehler
  • American rapper cuts own penis, jumps off building
  • Jay Z to bring Made in America music fest to LA
  • Why Lucky has not bought an engagement ring for Angel
  • Business

  • Total says makes ‘very promising’ oil find off Ivory Coast
  • ‘Chinese Twitter’ firm Weibo to go public in US
  • World stocks subdued, Nikkei flat on profit taking
  • Asia stocks fail to match Wall Street gains
  • Fired Yahoo exec gets $58M for 15 months of work
  • Technology

  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Filipinos #PrayForSouthKorea
  • Taylor Swift tries video blogging, crashes into fan’s bridal shower
  • DOF: Tagaytay, QC best at handling funds
  • Smart phone apps and sites perfect for the Holy Week
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Malaysia quarantines 64 villagers over MERS virus
  • DFA: 2 Filipinos survive Korean ferry disaster
  • PH asks airline passengers to check for MERS
  • Syria most dangerous country for journalists, PH 3rd—watchdog
  • Japan says visa-free entry still a plan
  • Marketplace