By Junex Doronio
MANILA — Forewarned is forearmed, so goes the saying, as the United States on Thursday warned China against what the Philippines see as increasingly aggressive moves in the disputed West Philippine Sea.
“An armed attack against the Philippines’ armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the Pacific, including in the South China Sea, will trigger our obligations under the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty,” State Department spokesman Ned Price pointed out.
Earlier, the President’s alter ego Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana ordered the Chinese vessels to get out of the Philippine territory.
“I am no fool. The weather has been good so far, so they have no other reason to stay there,” Lorenzana said in a strongly-worded statement last Saturday, April 3. “Umalis na kayo diyan (You should leave.)”
China earlier gave a lame excuse that the ships at Julian Felipe Reef, known to them as Niué Jiao, are only taking shelter from rough sea conditions and insisted that this is completely normal as it asserted its “historical” claims over the sea feature.
“We share the concerns of our Philippine allies regarding the continued reported massing of PRC maritime militia near the Whitsun Reef,” Price said.
More than 200 Chinese fishing vessels believed to be actually militias were first spotted on March 7 at Whitsun Reef, around 320 kilometers (200 miles) west of Palawan Island in the contested South China Sea, although many have since scattered across the disputed West Philippine Sea, also known as South China Sea.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and several lawmakers, crossing party lines, also stood by Lorenzana. (AI/MTVN)