The Aquino administration is skeptical on the declaration of a Chinese official that China is set to get more from the Philippine’s Panatag shoal, among other islands in the West Philippine Sea.
Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte made the pronouncement after the New York Times reported that Maj. Gen. Zhang Zhaozhong of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army revealed that China is set to seal and control areas around Panatag Shoal and take more from the said territory which lies within the 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone of the Philippines per the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas.
“We won’t comment on that yet because we don’t want to automatically attribute such statement to the Chinese government. It would be better for ia not to comment on that matter which is already sensitive as it is,” Valte said in an interview with Radyo ng Bayan.
Per the Chinese general, China will be using a cabbage strategy, wherein they will surround the West Philippine Sea islands with all types of ships, enclose it like a cabbage and hold on to it.
President Aquino has repeatedly said that Philippines exercises full sovereignty and jurisdiction over Panatag Shoal which is one of the islands in West Philippine Sea where China is staking claims despite the islands being located within the Manila’s exclusive economic zone.
“We would like to act with prudence here. We don’t want to react to every single thing they and cause tension every time,” Valte added.
The Philippines and China, as well as neighboring Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam, are claiming sovereignty over the said islands because of their richness in oil and gas deposits, as well as minerals. LLANESCA T. PANTI