Partido Reporma senatorial bet pushes for long term plans in Ayungin Shoal

Partido Reporma senatorial bet pushes for long term plans in Ayungin Shoal

By Tracy Cabrera

The BRP Sierra Madre which was deliberately grounded to serve as an outpost of the Philippine Navy at the Ayungin Shoal. (Photo: Wikipedia)

MANILA — Seeing the threat to our sovereignty and territorial rights from Chinese militia incursions in the West Philippines Sea, particularly in the Ayungin Shoal area, Partido Reporma senatorial aspirant Guillermo Eleazar stressed the need for government to focus on a long-term plan that would ensure the continuance of control in our territories.
Eleazar’s pronouncement came in the wake of increasing friction between Manila and Beijing triggered by the unprovoked attack by China’s coast guard vessels on Philippine supply ships on a mission to the Ayungin Shoal to bring much needed logistics to soldiers stationed and guarding the scuttled BRP Sierra Madre.

In addition to the attack, China has also demanded recently from Philippine authorities to fulfill an alleged earlier commitment by the Philippine government to remove the deliberately grounded navy ship.

“For the BRP Sierra Madre to remain at the Ayungin Shoal is not the issue here because it is clear that the area is ours. The real issue here is how we should replace BRP Sierra Madre with a permanent structure that would symbolize our rights and ownership of the area,” Eleazar pointed out.

“Darating ang panahon na tuluyang masisira ang BRP Sierra Madre at hindi na ito puwedeng tirahan pa ng mga tropa natin doon. Huwag sana nating hintayin na mabigyan sila ng oportunidad na mangyari ito at tuluyang mawala sa atin ang Ayungin Shoal. Ito lang ilalaban natin,” the former Philippine National Police chief added.

BRP Sierra Madre, an old ship of the Philippine Navy, was scuttled at the Ayungin Shoal as a way for the Philippines to maintain control of the area, which in various reports have figured as one of the areas within Philippine territory that has experienced repeated incursions by Chinese militia vessels.

Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana has rejected China’s demand to remove the BRP Sierra Madre, saying that Ayungin Shoal is clearly within the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

In support, Eleazar underscored that China’s demand is illogical and clearly without basis.

“Kapag nagpapaalis ka ng illegal settlers sa isang lugar, ang unang dapat ipakita mo ay katibayan na sa iyo ang property na iyon. Sa situwasyon na ito sa Ayunghin Shoal, baligtad ang nangyayari. Iyong pinapaalis (ay) ang may katibayan habang iyong nagpapaalis ay laway lang ang katibayan,” the 26th PNP chief stated.

“Sila dapat ang umalis doon dahil ayon nga kay Secretary Lorenzana, dalwa ang katibayan natin na atin ang Ayungin Shoal,” he further said.

Ayungin Shoal, which lies approximately 104 nautical miles off Palawan, is within the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and in 1999, BRP Sierra Madre was deliberately ran aground on the shoal to serve as a garrison for Filipino troops and assert the country’s sovereignty in the area.

In 2014, however, China claimed that the Philippines already agreed to remove the ship as it also claims ownership of the shoal, which it calls Ren’ai Jiao. Despite this, the Department of Foreign Affairs has denied the claims. (ai/mtvn)

Leave a Reply