Palace admits China controls West PH Sea
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang conceded on Monday that China controls the West Philippine Sea and that the country could not do anything for now but ask the Asian powerhouse for negotiations.
“Sila ang may kontrol, as of now. Meron silang pwersa doon. We can only protest like any other country na may claim (in the area) like Vietnam. Saka ‘yun lang ang magagawa natin. You want us to declare war against them?” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
Panelo made the remark as he doubted that Filipino fishermen were being driven away from Scarborough Shoal by the Chinese Coast Guard as claimed by a short documentary released by opposition senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares.
In a Facebook video, two Filipino fishermen detailed how the Chinese Coast Guard would drive them away from the area.
The report came days after Filipino fishermen and former Philippine officials have filed a communication against Chinese President Xi Jinping before the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.
Panelo, who is also President Rodrigo Duterte’s chief legal counsel, said they should present “proof” that Filipino fishermen were subjected to harassment.
He also claimed that the government would not allow such harassment of Filipino fishermen.
“They have to show proof that it’s being done now, because if that’s being done certainly we will protest. We will not allow our fishermen to be subjected to that kind of harassment,” he said.
The shoal, also known as Bajo de Masinloc, is a traditional Filipino fishing ground within the country’s 370-km exclusive economic zone.
The Philippines filed a case challenging China’s expansive claims to virtually the entire South China Sea in the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2013.
The arbitral tribunal sided with the Philippines three years later, but China refused to recognize the proceedings and ignored the ruling.
Duterte has also opted not to enforce the landmark decision and instead engage China in bilateral talks.
Panelo argued that no one can compel China to honor the 2016 arbritral ruling, that is why Duterte chose to negotiate with China.
“Has any Arbitral ruling this international court been enforced previously? Kung meron may pag-asa tayo, kung wala, sa ngayon wala muna tayong magagawa. So, pag-usapan muna natin sa negotiation,” he said. /cbb
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