Solon suggests joint patrols with ASEAN, Taiwan in South China Sea
MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker has suggested that Philippines conduct joint patrols in the South China Sea with some Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member-states and Taiwan.
Alliance of concerned teachers party-list representative France Castro brought this up to maintain peace in the disputed area.
Castro explained while there is a need to reduce tension in the South China Sea — particularly over the West Philippine Sea being claimed by China and the Philippines — a “peaceful yet assertive” solution can be used to discourage China’s activities.
“It would be best if our country increases our coast guard patrols as well as coordinate and launch joint patrols with the coast guards of Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, and Taiwan,” Castro said.
“By doing this, we are increasing the cooperation with ASEAN countries with generally equal footing with the Philippines and at the same time defending our territory,” she added.
Castro said this after another incident took place near the Ayungin Shoal, an atoll within the Spratly Islands that is well within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.
Last Sunday (April 23, 2023), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessel BRP Malapascua was nearly hit by a Chinese coast guard ship that blocked its route.
Reports stated the Chinese boat tried to cut off the PCG vessel to prevent it from reaching the shoal.
Castro called China ‘deceitful,’ saying that while Chinese diplomats insist on a peaceful resolution to disputes, such incidents are still being initiated by their vessels.
“Tuso talaga ang China (China is really deceitful). While its diplomats say more lines of communication are now available to avoid skirmishes and misunderstanding in the [WPS], their coast guard tried to ram our coast guard and are intent in denying us our own waters,” she said.
However, she believed leaning to the United States (US) would not be the solution, claiming that the country is only exploiting the Philippines’ strategic location.
“As things go, while China is using its might to force us out of our own territory and exclusive economic zones, US is exploiting our strategic location to advance its geopolitical agenda to the detriment of Filipinos,” Castro alleged.
Taiwan, which claims sovereignty from mainland China, is the closest neighbor of the Philippines in the north, with the northernmost province — Batanes — being less than 300 kilometers away from Kaohsiung City.