Walk the talk on China’s ‘creeping invasion’ in WPS, Lorenzana told | Inquirer News
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Walk the talk on China’s ‘creeping invasion’ in WPS, Lorenzana told

/ 11:05 AM April 05, 2021
Juan Felipe Reef Chinese Boats

Around 220 Chinese militia vessels were spotted moored at Julian Felipe Reef in the West Philippine Sea last March 7, 2021. (NTF WPS)

MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana should “walk the talk” amid China’s “creeping invasion” in the West Philippine Sea, Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers stressed Monday.

Barbers pointed out that while Lorenzana’s latest remarks telling China to refrain from conducting activities in the West Philippine Sea that would disturb regional and international peace and security is commendable, the defense secretary should also support his words with actions.

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“I hope that the good Secretary is joined by the other members of the Cabinet in his stance against China, but Secretary Lorenzana should walk the talk.  For instance, we already know and admitted that the ships are militia ships.  Why then can we not send our naval ships to impose our presence and show our resolve to defend our territory?” Barbers said in a statement.

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Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / RICHARD A. REYES

“This is already a creeping invasion, are we waiting for the naval armada of the enemy to be paraded before our eyes before we even try to lift a finger?” he added.

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In a statement over the weekend, Lorenzana said the continued presence of Chinese maritime militias in the Julian Felipe Reef reveals their intent to further occupy features in the West Philippine Sea.”

“The utter disregard by the Chinese Embassy in Manila of international law especially the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) to which China is a party is appalling,” Lorenzana said.

“Its nine-dash line claim is without any factual or legal basis. This, together with its so-called historical claim, was flatly and categorically rejected by the arbitral tribunal,” Lorenzana added.

 A ‘grave insult’

According to Barbers, China’s claim in the West Philippine Sea is “a grave insult”, adding that it is “revolting and sickening.”

Pag-asa Island

ENHANCING FILIPINO PRESENCE With the newly completed beach ramp, large vessels no longer have to rely on smaller boats to deliver cargo to Pag-asa Island, the country’s largest outpost in the West Philippine Sea, which is up for more improvements for its military contingent and civilian population of about 200. —PHOTO COURTESY OF PALAWAN PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT

“For hundreds of years China never laid claim on these territories within the West Philippine Sea which are part of our Exclusive Economic Zone and recognized by international bodies and many countries. Suddenly and just recently, it was like magic that the entire West Philippine Sea became theirs,” Barbers said.

“This method or process of annexation should never be countenanced, not by any self-respecting Philippine government nor any sovereign nation and international body for that matter,” he added.

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Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / NINO JESUS ORBETA

Further, Barbers said the Philippines “should not have allowed a single pail of concrete or a piece of nail to touch our sacred land.”

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“Now that they have built complete concrete structures and encircled our territory with their militia ships, we should not and cannot simply keep quiet and allow a creeping invasion to happen right under our noses,” Barbers said.

Aside from the recent militia ships spotted in the Julian Felipe Reef, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) earlier reported that illegal structures were spotted on Union Banks in the West Philippine Sea’s Spratly Islands.

The AFP said a maritime patrol was conducted on March 30 over the “Pagkakaisa Banks” or Union Banks, a group of features that are within the Kalayaan Islands Group in the municipality of Kalayaan in Palawan province.

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TAGS: China, Delfin Lorenzana, West Philippine Sea
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