Disputed areas in West Philippine Sea may suffer same fate as Crimea, lawmaker warns

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Friday, March 21, 2014

MANILA -- An administration lawmaker on Friday urged the government to keep a tight watch on the series of recent provocative actions by China at the disputed territories in West Philippine Sea.

Valenzuela City Representative Sherwin Gatchalian feared that China might eventually use its might to annex highly contested territories in the Southeast Asia in a similar way how Russia flexed its muscles after invading the Crimea Region in Ukraine

"[I am] wary of the fact that China could be taking a cue from Russia as far as dealing and resolving its maritime territorial conflict with the Philippines and its other Asian neighbors are concerned," Gatchalian said.

He said that the similar openly aggressive and defiant actions that China is taking regarding the maritime dispute should be a cause of great concern especially for the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

The lawmaker warned that China might take a cue from Russia and could use its military might to enforce its claims and later justify its acts by invoking its inherent rights on its territorial claims.

“Let us remember that both China and Russia are major international players and they both have the capacity and the capability to change and shake up the current (world) order,” Gatchalian said.

He added that he is also worried since China opted to keep silent and refused to join the international community in condemning what Russia had done to Crimea.

The lawmaker hinted that the Chinese government being mum on the issue means it may be supporting the actions of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) member.

The Valenzuela legislator has expressed his disappointment after the recent "bullying tactics" made by the Asian superpower in Ayungin Shoal near Palawan and in Bajo de Masinloc, also known as Panatag Shoal or Scarborough Shoal, which is only 118-nautical miles from the coast of Zambales province.

Last March 9, two civilian vessels contracted by the Philippine Navy (PN) to conduct troop rotation and resupply operations on Ayungin Shoal were reportedly "followed, blocked, harassed and then turned away by China Coast Guard (CCG)."

Prior to that incident, last January 27, Filipino fishermen were also driven away by the CCG from Panatag Shoal, by using water cannons which was viewed by many as a "clear act of aggression and provocation."

Gatchalian said that he is supporting  the Aquino administration "for choosing to thread the path of peace by filing formal complaints before the proper international tribunals, China’s somewhat uncooperative acts should serve as red flags for the Philippines' policy makers." (Sunnex)

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