By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday said that China should ‘stop twisting the truth’ after the Chinese embassy denied allegations that there were 220 Chinese maritime militia vessels near Julian Felipe Reef in the West Philippine Sea.
“China is gaslighting us. Pinapalabas ng Tsina na tayo ay nagha-hallucinate. Nakakapagod ang patuloy nilang pagbabaluktot ng katotohanan para sa sarili nilang interes. China has stolen from us, and now she is lying to us,” Hontiveros said.
The Chinese embassy issued a statement saying that “there is no Chinese maritime militia as alleged,” contradicting the report of our National Task Force for the WPS. The embassy also referred to Julian Felipe Reef by its Chinese name Niu’e Jiao, insisting that the reef is part of China’s Nansha administrative district in the South China Sea.
“The existence of Nansha district alone is illegitimate. How dare the Chinese embassy says that we are the ones causing ‘unnecessary irritation’? Tsina ang naglabag ng batas, bakit Pilipinas ang mag-aadjust?” Hontiveros asked.
Meanwhile, Malacañang declared that the Philippines and China could resolve this issue because of their close friendship. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque also earlier expressed confidence that there will be no repeat of the 2012 Scarborough shoal standoff between the Philippines and China. He also said that “wala namang hindi napaguusapan sa panig ng mga magkakaibigan.”
“Mukhang pinapalabas na maliit na bagay lang ang patuloy na pagmamaltrato ng Tsina sa ating bansa. Kung tunay na kaibigan ang Tsina, hindi niya pagsasamantalahan ang Pilipinas. Malacañang really does need to reassess this so-called friendship. China has caused irreversible damage to our seas. Yaman na hindi na maibabalik. Kung di parin galit ang Palasyo, bakit?” the senator added.
Hontiveros also said that the presence of the Chinese vessels restricts access to the islands and features, we occupy. Additionally, according to Andrew S. Erickson, a Professor of Strategy at the U.S. Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute, these vessels may be used as main weapons, since their size and strength makes them capable of ramming typical civilian fishing vessels.
“China is putting our fisherfolk communities in grave danger. We, in government, especially the Palace, should unanimously denounce the incivility China has directed toward our country. Ipagsigawan natin sa Tsina na atin lang ang West Philippine Sea, atin lang ang Pinas,” Hontiveros concluded. (AI|MTVN)