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Philippines must prepare for China response
Publication Date : 18-05-2014
The Philippines must prepare for China’s response to the “jabs” it has thrown at it, a Filipino security analyst said as tensions rise between the two countries over their territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea.
Two Central European countries, meantime, have joined other countries in supporting the Philippines’ effort to resolve the dispute peacefully in accordance with international law.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Saturday that Hungary and Poland declared their support for the Philippine arbitration case in the UN International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in The Hague, the Netherlands, in separate meetings with Assistant Foreign Secretary Maria Zenaida Angara Collinson last week.
By deploying a deepwater oil drilling rig in Vietnamese waters and reclaiming land on Mabini Reef (international name: Johnson South Reef) in the West Philippine Sea, China is telling Vietnam and the Philippines that it “means business,” security analyst Jose Antonio Custodio said.
“When we cause ripples, they create a storm,” Custodio told the Inquirer in a recent interview.
“China’s responses always have a great impact,” he said.
Custodio recalled that after the Philippines tried to arrest Chinese poachers at Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) off Zambales province in 2012, China grabbed the shoal.
“Something could happen, triggered by recent developments, because if you think about it, we [jabbed China] three times recently,” Custodio said.
Those jabs were the Philippine military’s outsmarting the Chinese Coast Guard and resupplying and rotating the small Marine garrison on the BRP Sierra Madre at Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal) on March 29; the DFA’s submission on March 30 of evidence to the UN arbitral court to support the Philippine case for the nullification of China’s territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea, and the arrest by Philippine maritime police of 11 Chinese fishermen caught poaching more than 500 protected sea turtles at Hasa-Hasa Shoal (Half Moon Shoal) in the West Philippine Sea on May 6.
Those actions by the Philippines have drawn support from allies, but they have certainly angered China, Custodio said.
He said the Chinese have actually been “telegraphing what they will do, and they will stand by what they say.”
Custodio recalled that the China Coast Guard ship told the Philippine resupply vessel that outwitted it at Ayungin Shoal on March 29: “You will face the consequences of your actions.”
“That was a warning. They did not mean that the consequences would happen on that same day. The consequences will happen in the future. We have to be prepared for what they could do,” Custodio said.
Philippine authorities must protect Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea, he said.
The Philippines must also be more aggressive in protecting its territories in the West Philippine Sea, especially islands eyed by China for their resources, he said.
“The Edca could also come in for the monitoring of the West Philippine Sea,” Custodio added, referring to the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, a new security agreement between the Philippines and the United States that allows US forces expanded access to Philippine military bases and to preposition fighter jets and ships.
Hungarian, Polish support
The DFA said a Hungarian delegation led by Deputy State Secretary Peter Wintermantel expressed support for the Philippine arbitration case during a meeting with Collinson in Budapest on May 9.
“Hungary agreed with the Philippines that bringing the West Philippine Sea issue before the arbitral tribunal is in consonance with international law and the peaceful settlement of disputes,” the DFA said in a statement.
Poland was as supportive of the Philippine case, the DFA said.
Polish Undersecretary of State Artur Nowak-Far expressed his government’s support during his delegation’s meeting with Collinson in Warsaw on May 6, the DFA said.