Duterte will resolve sea row – Palace

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President Rodrigo Duterte is not giving up the country’s claims on some areas in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) and he will resolve maritime incursions at an auspicious time, Malacañang assured the public on Tuesday.

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DUTERTE IN THAILAND Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha speaks with President Rodrigo Duterte at the presidential palace in Bangkok. Duterte is on a two-day official visit to Thailand. AFP Photo

The assurances were issued following reports that Beijing plans to construct an environmental monitoring station on Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, which is being claimed by three countries – the Philippines, China and Taiwan.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Duterte will resolve China’s massive claims over contested waters “at a time most fitting and advantageous” to the Filipino people.

He added that the Department of Foreign Affairs is “in the process of verifying alleged announcements of proposals to build structures in West Philippine Sea, since these statements do not reflect the official position of PROC [People’s Republic of China].”

“PRRD [President Rodrigo Roa Duterte] has repeatedly asserted that the Philippines is not giving up its claims and our entitlements over the area,” Abella said in a statement.

“He has said time and again that he will defend and protect the interests of the Filipino people, and will take necessary action at a time most fitting and advantageous to us.”

Sansha Communist Party Secretary Xiao Jie was quoted by Chinese daily as saying that environmental monitoring stations will be built on six islands and reefs, including Panatag Shoal. These projects are among the government’s priorities this year, he said.

China seized Panatag Shoal in 2012 after a standoff with Philippine Coast Guard vessels and prevented Filipinos from fishing in the area.

In July 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague invalidated China’s nine-dash line maritime claim that covers at least 90 percent of the entire South China Sea.

Duterte chose to set aside the ruling as he sought to strengthen ties with Beijing.

Recently, Chinese survey ships were monitored patrolling the resource-rich Benham Rise over which the Philippines has sovereign rights based on a United Nations ruling.

Duterte admitted that he allowed Beijing to send its ships to Benham Rise.

Before leaving for Myanmar on Sunday, the President said he cannot stop China’s actions in Panatag Shoal because the Philippines cannot afford to wage war on China.

“We cannot stop China from doing those things. Even the Americans could not stop them,” he said.

Final say

The Philippine military said it is ready to defend the country’s territory and is awaiting the President’s instructions.

Col. Edgard Arevalo, chief of the Armed Forces Public Affairs Office, said the military has not received any
order on what to do with Benham Rise or other disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea.

“Up to now we have not received any instructions from the Department of National Defense and the Office of the President for us to conduct patrols. The Armed Forces of the Philippines is ready to undertake its mandate to defend our Constitution, to defend our territories and our sovereignty. We are not the policy maker. We are not the decision maker,” Arevalo said.

“But your armed forces is ready to embark on any mission pertaining to our mandate which is to protect our territorial integrity and sovereignty,” he added.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) had earlier said that the President has ordered the military to conduct regular patrols in Benham Rise.

Arevalo said the Philippine Navy has a vessel that has the capability to conduct maritime research in Benham.
However, without a clear official order from the President, the military can only monitor developments at the Panatag Shoal and Benham Rise.

“But with regard to foreign relations and to the manner how we will deal with these so-called activities conducted by other countries, it would have to come from the national and political leadership,” Arevalo said.

WITH A REPORT FROM FERNAN MARASIGAN

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8 Comments

  1. John Chameleon on

    After that timid reaction of Duterte to the planned construction of the environmental monitoring stations (suspected radars) in six of the China man-made islands, here is Abella saying that the president will resolve the China territorial dispute at an “auspicious” time.

    Great word but when really is that time? After the Chinese had virtually built all their facilities on the island for the Philippines to yield them although the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration awarded to the Philippines the sovereignty over the islands. Or protest on the plan so China will have a second thought on it.

    Benham Rise was invaded by the Chinese survey ship. Shall Duterte wait for their reclamation team to cordon the area and build another island and control all the natural resources on the sovereign part of the Philippine territory? He has no reaction. He’s practically condoning every aggression of China. Has China started pulling the strings attached to our President?

    If Duterte wants to play chess on the Benham Rise for the Americans to move and swear their support for our nation then he must start doing precise and accurate moves (not timid or inferior ones) and regain the tempo and advantageous position. Just like you, your “powerful” Chinese friends won’t take an inferior and losing position in a game. This game is of global arena.

    For your information and guidance let me quote Bobby Fischer: “A good player is always lucky.”

  2. I refuse to think I’m smarter than the President and elected officials in his administration. I trust he and our top diplomats knows what they are doing to handle the issue. It’s not a black and white issue. It is a very complex issue.

    To date the president’s actions has been beneficial to Philippines including increase in export of produce to China – think of our mango, pineapple and coconut farmers who are now able to sell 100% of their harvests.

    Giving away even a very small island within our sovereign land is an impeachable offence. Duterte is a lawyer, let him and his administration do their jobs we elected them to do.

  3. The Filipinos love the USA, but there is no sign that America loves the Philippines. The United States under the administration of President Donald J. Trump must show at least America’s support in this current conflict against China. DU30 and his congress must directly ask the USA to erase China on its illegal occupancy. China, of course, will object, but that is nonsense. After the United States Military finished its job clearing the West Philippine sea, everything will be normal and peaceful. After all, the USA is not a grabber. Proof – When the crazy Filipino politicians asked America to scrub the US military bases in the Philippines, America complied without reprisal. Therefore, the USA can be trusted as a savior and friend. Philippine Congress must stop talking as well as the President of the Philippines. Tell America what you want for the good of the Philippines. If America does not agree, then that is the time you start examining your blind friendship to the United States.

  4. The United States is gone and China is not going anywhere. Manila is condemned to go along to get along with the Chinese. All of China’s neighbors will have their borders encroached by the Chinese eventually.. Only the Vietnamese have resisted Chinese invasion after they ousted the Mao favorite, Pol Pot in Cambodia. The South China Sea is a loser for Manila in the end no matter what happens out there. The British, the French, the Japanese and the US are all pledging to keep sea lanes open and resist the take over of international waters. Does this look like 1845? All the same flags flying against China. It’s not good. Manila, stay out of this. Why suffer front line damage when the others are all far away?

  5. Sec. Lorenzana, please po proteksyonan nyo mga dagat natin, huwag na kayo umasa kay Digong at wala naman sya paki alam sa bansa nya dahil isa sya Intsik.

  6. JACINTO BAYBAY on

    It is easier said than done . HE MUST RESOLVE IT NOW. Every such as Vietnam and Taiwan country has acted except the Philippines.

  7. dating magna-nakaw on

    Bejing plans to construct environmental monitoring station on the seven (7) islands they constructed on Panatag Shoal? Abah.. ehh..Malabo yata yan, di ba? If the Philippines will allow that to happen, they (China) still claim that it is their equipment, constructed in the (artificial) islands, and they have all the rights to protect their sovereignty. ehh.. patay na naman ang mga duwag at bobo na Pinoys, di ba? Mayabang lang kasi ang Mayor na nagging Presidente dahil tinanggihan niya lahat na pwedeng maitulong ni Uncle Sam noon, such as economic and military aid that was scheduled to be given to the country for its people. If the President is not hiding anything, such as summary execution and extra judicial killings, he should have just smiled and told the whole world that he will continue his fight against illegal drugs, using all resources, styles, and techniques—Philippine Style.

    This is what the President should do to reclaim the Panatag Shoals as part of Philippines’ economic zone. Heck, it is only 140 nautical miles from the country, and it would be very safe to say that it is still within the 200 nautical miles. The Tribunal or Arbitration Court already made a ruling that Panatag Shoals are still within the economic zone of the Philippines and PDDU30 can announce to the whole world that he is only taking back what is rightfully belong to the Philippines and its people. He should go there himself to plant the Philippine Flag, should be accompanied by some of his staff and couple representatives from the CBCP to Bless the event, asking the Almighty for peace. Before executing all these plans, make sure that requested U.S. Carrier Strike Group is within the vicinity of south pacific. Chinese Navy normally goes into hibernation when U.S. Navy is patrolling the area, because the enormous firepower of one(1) U.S. Carrier Strike Group. Just looking on the missile destroyer ships as part of this groups will make them pee on their pants .They do not even realize several nuclear powered submarines accompanying this group, can carry 64 ICBM each, and if they find out about this nuclear power subs, they will surely shit on their pants as well.

    • All you say are nice to haves, not even a solid plan. Everything you mention above is still dependent on how US will support this move of yours.