Southeast Asia rises against China in South China Sea sans RP-Anakpawis

Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia with its latest action, are rising up against China whose aggression is based on its preposterous “nine-dash” line or that the whole South China Sea is part of their territory.

However, the Duterte government remains engrossed with its appeasement policy, former Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel Casilao said on Friday.

Casilao said this, as Indonesian President Joko Widodo visited the Natuna island that is part of their territory being claimed by China, mobilized fishermen with its naval forces to defend their territorial waters, and deployed four F-16 fighter jets and naval ships against Chinese vessels approaching the island.

The Indonesian assertion followed the December 2019-submission of the Malaysian government of information of its continental shelf beyond its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to the United Nations (UN), and the sustained resistance of Vietnamese naval forces against Chinese incursion during the second half of last year. “Fortunately, we are seeing model ways of how to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity, the bad news is, it is not by our own government, but by our neighboring Southeast Asian countries. These actions make the Duterte government appear as a client or lackey regime of China,” the former lawmaker said.

Casilao blamed President Rodrigo Duterte’s appeasement or “surrender” policy to its beggar-like attitude for funding for its infrastructure projects. “We are all witnesses to the selling out of national sovereignty, territorial integrity and national patrimony by the Duterte, because it is actually begging for funds. He carries out an iron-hand rule against Filipinos who are asserting rights to land and livelihood, but essentially a vassal of China,” he added. For his part, Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and former Anakpawis representative Fernando Hicap said that Duterte’s continued surrender of the country’s EEZ is already taking toll on the livelihood of Filipino fishermen and national economy.

“We firmly believe that Chinese occupation of traditional fishing grounds in the West Philippine Sea pushed the commercial fishing vessels inward our waters, thus, their encroachment of municipal waters such as in Palawan. Municipal fishermen attested that big fishing vessels operated amid the fishing ban since November, and government officials are also recommending their entry in municipal waters which is prohibited by the Fisheries Code,” Hicap said. He also based his claim on the fate of the F/B Gem-ver 1 which was rammed by a Chinese vessel in Recto Bank in June last year, and the continued occupation of Chinese naval ships of Panatag Shoal that deprived Filipino fishermen of refuge during inclement weather. He also related this to the dwindling production of galunggong and the mounting importation from China, as ordered by the Department of Agriculture.

“We lost Panatag Shoal that serves as refuge of our fishemen, they are threatened at the Recto bank, and the latest, Pag-asa island is reportedly surrounded by 38 Chinese vessels, which is a clear violation of our territorial integrity. We are continuously being bullied by China, but Duterte remains at his beggar-for-funds stance and fails to assert our rights as a people,” he slammed.

The leaders said that Duterte is unremittingly acting as an “accomplice” of China in its violation of the country’s national sovereignty, territorial integrity and existing laws, amid the favorable decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) that the latter’s “nine-dash line” claim has no legal basis. “We have overwhelming existing laws mandating the government to protect our territorial waters and EEZ, but Duterte continues to violate these laws in the name of subservience to China. The Filipino people should rise up against his appeasement approach, make him accountable and concretely assert national sovereignty against the Asian superpower,” Casilao ended. (report by STACY ANG)

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