Palace: Opposition bets’ plan to visit Scarborough a ‘publicity stunt’
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang slammed as mere “publicity stunt” the supposed planned visit of several opposition senatorial candidates to the Scarborough Shoal.
“Publicity stunt. [They are] succeeding because they are getting your -[media] attention,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a text message on Tuesday.
In a statement, Panelo called the planned trip a “cheap political propaganda.”
“We look at this cheap political propaganda as another dramatic opportunity to lambast the Duterte administration’s foreign policy on China in full view of the cameras with the consequent free media mileage. They must be commended for their creativity. Surely they never run out of childish gimmickry,” he said.
Senatorial candidates Gary Alejano, Chel Diokno, Samira Gutoc, and Florin Hilbay said they were supposed to travel by boat to Scarborough Shoal and plant a Philippine flag there but claimed that they were barred by the Philippine Coast Guard, which purportedly cited national security.
The group instead held a dialogue with residents of the coastal town of Masinloc in Zambales.
Scarborough Shoal is a traditional fishing ground within the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone that Beijing seized after a two-month standoff with the Philippine Navy in 2012.
“Lest they forget however, it is during the previous Administration which they want to be identified with, when we lost the disputed area in the South China Sea. It was also during their time that the Filipino fishermen, whom they said they are fighting for, were denied access to the same area around the shoal in 2012,” Panelo said.
“We wish them luck in their pretended patriotism. Hopefully soon they will be struck with the lightning of enlightenment and the thunder of logical reasoning that they may tread the path of genuine nationalism,” he added.
The Philippines in July 2016 secured a historic win against China before the United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, Netherlands. The arbitral tribunal invalidated Beijing’s “nine-dash line” that asserts across-the-board claims over South China Sea. China, however, has ignored the ruling. /cbb/kga
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