Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard
MANILA, Philippines — While the Philippines rolled out the red carpet for the Chinese Coast Guard during its week-long goodwill visit, retired Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on Friday slammed the seeming opportunist moves of another Chinese ship loitering near the Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
“That just shows that even while they say they want to be friends with us, they are putting pressure on our BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal. I don’t think that’s how friends should act,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a forum hosted by the Chamber of Commerce of the Philippine Islands.
BRP Sierra Madre refers to the marooned transport ship that serves as a detachment of the Philippine Navy.
A CCG ship was spotted moving back and forth near Ayungin Shoal this week, at the same time when Manila received another CCG vessel on a friendly visit.
The presence of CCG 5402 near Ayungin Shoal was also confirmed by the military.
The CCG 5204, meanwhile, arrived in Manila on Monday for a series of talks and exercises with the Philippine Coast Guard to boost cooperation and mutual understanding. It left Manila on Friday morning.
“It’s incongruous that our brave soldiers in BRP Sierra Madre are being pressured, they are being intimidated while we are giving them a red carpet here. I think there’s a disconnect there somehow,” Carpio said.
The former senior magistrate said the Philippine side should have brought up the harassment incidents of CCG to Filipino fishermen and troops in the West Philippine Sea.
The Philippines should also keep protesting China’s activities in the West Philippine Sea, even if it maintains diplomatic relations with them.
“We should be clear that yes we maintain diplomatic relations, cordial with them, but we should call them out,” Carpio said.
The President’s “appeasement” policy would only embolden China to pursue its aggressive claims.
“We are sending the message that we are accepting all threats, insults, intimidation, and we’re not showing any protest,” he said.
Meanwhile, Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana said the presence of CCG ship near Ayungin Shoal was not unusual.
“Palagi naman sila nandun sa Ayungin eh. ‘Yung atin namang mga fishermen ay nakakapag-fishing sa paligid ng Ayungin. I don’t see the problem there,” he told reporters pn Thursday.
He added that Filipino fishermen can now fish freely in the area since 2016, compared to the previous years when tensions between the Philippines and China were high.
The CCG ships are a common sight in the South China Sea, including the waters of their neighbors like the Philippines. There are several well-publicized reports of CCG’s coercive actions to Philippine ships and fishermen in the West Philippine Sea.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.