NSC: Diplomacy still part of Marcos strategy in West Philippine Sea

NSC: Diplomacy still part of PH strategy in sea row with China

By: - Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 05:42 AM April 02, 2024

NSC: Diplomacy still part of PH strategy in sea row with China

Chinese Coast Guard vessels fire water cannons toward a Philippine vessel Unaizah May 4 on its way to a resupply mission at Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea, March 5, 2024. REUTERS/ADRIAN PORTUGAL

MANILA, Philippines — The “countermeasures” that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. ordered implemented against “illegal, coercive, aggressive and dangerous attacks” by China’s coast guard in the West Philippine Sea would entail exhausting all diplomatic measures to resolve disputes aside from strengthening the country’s defense capabilities with allies, National Security Council (NSC) spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said on Monday.

“The proportionate, deliberate and reasonable response the President was talking about covered not only the aspect of strengthening military and defense capabilities with other allies… but it also talks about exhausting diplomatic efforts to resolve the issue,” Malaya said at the government television program “Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon,” describing the package as multidimensional.


READ: WPS ‘countermeasures’ set vs China – Marcos


On Sunday, Malacañang announced that the President had ordered the creation of the National Maritime Council (NMC) to strengthen coordination on maritime security to confront “serious challenges” to territorial integrity and peace amid an escalating dispute with China over competing claims in the South China Sea.

The latest flare-up occurred on March 24, when China used a water cannon to disrupt a Philippine resupply mission to Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal for soldiers guarding the BRP Sierra Madre, a warship intentionally grounded on the reef 25 years ago.

Concerted effort needed

In the Senate, Majority Leader Joel Villanueva filed a resolution on Monday urging his colleagues to rally behind the President’s order to come up with countermeasures to address Beijing’s illegal activities in the West Philippine Sea.

Villanueva also sought his fellow senators’ support to collectively denounce China’s “unprovoked aggression, continued harassment, and illegal and dangerous actions” that threatened the safety of Filipino troopers and fishermen.

READ: Marcos on Chinese Coast Guard’s water cannon attack: ‘Filipinos do not yield’

“As in previous incidents, China has continued to ignore the (arbitral) award (that rejected China’s claims in the South China Sea) and deny the harassment and intimidation claims of the Philippines,” read a portion of Villanueva’s proposed Senate Resolution No. 980.


“While the Senate… supports the presidential directive to implement a response and countermeasure package… all other relevant government agencies and instrumentalities are urged to exhaust and pursue all the necessary mechanisms… to put an end to the continued aggression and illegal activities of China in the West Philippine Sea,” it added.

Beijing unperturbed

Beijing reacted soberly to the President’s latest move, with a China foreign ministry spokesperson saying on Monday that no matter what policies the Philippines rolls out, it cannot affect China’s sovereignty and maritime rights.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said China hoped the Philippines would observe the commitments and consensus reached by both countries and properly manage situations through negotiations.

The Chinese official was referring to a supposed “gentleman’s agreement” that former President Rodrigo Duterte had entered into with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the government’s resupply missions to Ayungin Shoal, something that Sen. Risa Hontiveros said was “not all that surprising.”

“Duterte [had] always kowtowed to Beijing, putting his relationship with China first before our national interest. That much was clear during his presidency,” Hontiveros told the Inquirer on Monday.

According to Malaya, the government under the administration of President Marcos is not bound to abide by the supposed “gentleman’s agreement.”

“[S]ince this was not signed, it does not involve any legally binding document, the Marcos administration is not bound,” Malaya said.

Inviting foreign interference

Sen. Imee Marcos, the President’s elder sister, questioned the contents of Marcos’ Executive Order (EO) No. 57 establishing the National Maritime Council.

In a statement, the senator said Section 7 of EO 57 “welcomes many a Trojan horse of foreign interference” as it allowed the NMC to receive “donations, contributions, grants, bequests or gifts from domestic and foreign sources.”

“To prevent yet another regional conflict, what we need instead are solutions for peace from those who claim to be our genuine allies,” the senator said.

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House Assistant Minority Leader and Gabriela women’s party list Rep. Arlene Brosas also warned against staging the Balikatan exercises with US troops near the West Philippine Sea, saying it would only add fuel to the fire of the country’s escalating tension with China. WITH REPORTS FROM MELVIN GASCON, JEANNETTE I. ANDRADE AND REUTERS INQ

TAGS: Beijing, Diplomacy, National Security Council, West Philippines Sea

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