Zarate dares DND, soldiers: Stop ‘terrific’ silence on Chinese incursions
MANILA, Philippines — House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate dared Friday the Department of National Defense (DND) and all soldiers to stand up for the Philippines and stop their supposed “terrific” silence over Chinese incursions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
In a statement, the opposition congressman asked the DND why it was “terrifically silent on the Chinese incursions in our territorial waters, that even included harassment of our own people.”
“I challenge the DND and the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] especially the remaining patriotic officers and soldiers to stop being silent or downplay instances of Chinese incursions and to stand up for our country,” Zarate said.
“Malaki ang mawawala sa ating bayan kapag mas malaki pa ang nakakamkam o naagaw ng China sa atin dahil sa pananahimik ng DND,” he added.
A document submitted last September 13 by the DND to Zarate has bared that a Chinese Coast Guard ship had blocked the path of three Philippine civilian vessels on a resupply mission to BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal in the WPS.
The incident happened on May 14, according to DND’s report written by Usec. Cardozo Luna. The report also stated that in the first semester of 2019, a total of 322 Chinese militia vessels with different bow numbers were monitored, of which 300 were sighted in Pag-asa (Thitu) Island alone.
Zarate lamented why these incidents were not openly reported and denounced by the DND and Coast Guard.
“Why the shroud of secrecy or the kid-glove handling of these Chinese incursions when it is our sovereignty and safety of our people that are at stake?” asked Zarate.
The progressive lawmaker also warned that this “seemingly timorous stance” would only “further embolden China to be more aggressive in advancing its lopsided claims in the Spratlys.”
The said incident happened almost a month before the June 9 incident near Recto (Reed) Bank where a Chinese vessel rammed and sank an anchored Filipino fishing boat, leaving the crew members of the floundering fishing boat stranded for four hours until a passing Vietnamese vessel rescued them.
President Rodrigo Duterte had dismissed the incident as a “little maritime accident,” almost similar to Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang’s remark that the boat ramming was “an ordinary maritime traffic accident.” /jpv
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