Senate President Juan Miguel F. Zubiri on Monday, August 7, said the “provocative, illegal and dangerous”maneuvers by a Chinese Guard vessel on a smaller Philippine Coast Guard vessel last week in the Philippine exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is the latest manifestation of China’s “might vs. right” treatment of its peaceful neighbors.
‘’It is a show of China’s diplomatic duplicity: of professing friendship, but practicing hostile behavior,” Zubiri said in a privilege speech in today’s regular session.
“Bobolahin tayo nila na kaibigan daw sila natin. (They kid us that we are their friends). Tapos sa isang iglap bobombahin ng tubig ang ating mga barko (In a flash, they water cannon our vessels),” he added.
China continues to reject a United Nations (UN) Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruling in 2016 that it found its historical claim over most parts of the South China Sea has no basis.
“How can they convince us as that they are sincere when one day they shower a former President of ours (former President Duterte) with praises and assurances in Beijing, and then shortly after, the next day, they fire water cannons on our ships,” Zubiri said.
He said a Senate resolution that suggested five options for the Executive branch to adopt in confronting the country’s territorial dispute with China “illuminates the way forward.”
“Because China contemptuously ignores protests, all the more that we have to rally the world to condemn acts which have no place in a civilized order,” he pointed out.
Senator Christopher ‘’Bong’’ Go on joined Zubiri in expressing “deepest resentment and condemnation” over the use of water cannon by the CCG.
Go asked China to “stop bullying the Philippines.”
“Grabeng respeto ang ibinigay sa inyo, simula pa noong panahon ni dating Pangulong Duterte. Sa anim na taon, binigay ni pangulong Duterte ang lahat ng respeto (We gave you all the respect during the administration of former President Duterte. In six years. President Duterte gave you all the respect),” Go said also in a privilege speech.
“Gaya ng sabi ko noon, kahit maliit lang tayo na bansa, huwag nyo kaming apihin dahil kilala naman ang mga Pilipino na matatapang, lumalaban, at ipinaglalaban ang ating karapatan (Like what I said earlier, although we are a small country don’t trample on us because I know Filipinos are brave, they are fighters and they fight for their rights),” he added.
“What is ours is ours. We must remain consistent (with) our foreign policy of being friends to all, enemy to none. But we must also stand firm on protecting our sovereignty,” he added.
Go stressed that this latest incident is “irresponsible and contrary to China’s repeated assurances of peacefully settling whatever misunderstandings we have over the West Philippine Sea.
‘’I am appealing to President Bongbong Marcos, Jr., as the chief architect of our foreign policy, to always safeguard the safety of our personnel and our national interests,”he said.
‘’I am confident that the President will always uphold our sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea with the help of our partners,’’ he added.
‘’This is not only a concern of the Philippines but the whole world. And we appeal to the international community for them to show sincerity not only with their words but also with their actions of respecting fellow states,’’ Go stressed.
Other senators also chimed in. Sen. Risa Hontiveros called for the banning of China-owned companies in the Philippines following the former’s continued harassment of Filipinos in the West Philippine Sea.
Hontiveros said the Philippines could also show its displeasure “economically” by dropping projects it entered into with Chinese state-owned firms, and prohibiting them from operating in the country.
She also urged the Philippine government to expand its alliance with other countries, civil groups and the private sector in upholding the rule of law over the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
Senate President Pro-Tempore Loren Legarda, on the other hand, also condemned the dangerous maneuvers of the CCG saying they violated international conventions and endangered the Filipino crew at sea.
“China must follow international law. Ayungin Shoal is a low tide elevation part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, pursuant to the 1982 UNCLOS and as affirmed by the 2016 Arbitral Award. This is final and binding,” Legarda said.
For his part, Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. said “it is alarming that after the collective advocacy and united stance of the Senate as one of the pillars of freedom and independence in the country last week, it seems that we are now being mocked through the use of water cannons against our countrymen,” Revilla said.