THERE is no Chinese flag that was planted on a sandbar near the Philippine-controlled Kota Island in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman said, quoting a “very reliable source”.
“According to the source that I referred to, there was none, there was no flag ring that time…I inquired about that and apparently, as of this stage, there is no flag,” Ernesto Abella told reporters during a press conference on Thursday.
“But it seems that the place, in itself, is subject to many passers-through and in fact, there are evidences of people who do park there. And many but these are not military but mainly these are citizens who maybe – but this is not verified – mainly, these are citizens and not white or gray ships,” he added.
Abella issued the statement after Rep. Gary Alejano of the Magdalo party-list claimed that the Chinese flag mounted on a steel pipe was discovered near Kota Island around the third week of July.
“A Chinese vessel allegedly erected the said three-meter high Chinese flag on a sand cay which is known to be within a Philippine-controlled area,” Alejano said in a statement.
Following such reports, Alejano called on government officials, particularly the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), to be transparent on issues regarding the disputed waters.
“While the Philippines is pursuing bilateral engagements with China, the government has the responsibility to inform the public through providing appropriate and careful information meant for public consumption,” Alejano said.
“The Filipino people are entitled to know to make sure that Philippine national interests are not set aside. Besides being an issue of territorial integrity, it also has immediate security and economic implications which definitely mean something to our fellow Filipinos living in the area,” he added.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano had assured lawmakers that the department would inform the public if there was cause of concern or alarm in the situation in the West Philippine Sea.
“So let me assure na [that]despite the lack of details that we give you, we will tell you if there is an alarming situation, or if the public is in danger, or if we are going take or step up certain actions that needs the public’s support or knowledge,” he said.