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‘Hypocritical Chinese propaganda won’t reverse maritime damage’
Published on: Sunday, September 24, 2023
By: PNA
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‘Hypocritical Chinese propaganda won’t reverse maritime damage’
Filipino activists alongside the Sierra Madre, while others perch on the rusty cargo doors to unfurl their country’s flag and sing the national anthem together with the Philippines’ forces permanently stationed on the beached vessel.
MANILA: The Department of National Defense (DND) chided China on Saturday over its “propaganda lines” accusing the Philippines and the BRP Sierra Madre, Manila’s outpost in the Ayungin Shoal, of marine damage.

“The statement of China that the grounded Sierra Madre is causing irrevocable harm is to put it as politely as possible, hypocritical,” DND Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said in a statement.

“Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! China continues to damage the West Philippine Sea by its illegal reclamation activities in the South China Sea.

Teodoro pointed out yet again that the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in its 2016 ruling found China to be a “violator of international law” when its reclamation operation in the area damaged the marine environment.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning on Thursday denied that Beijing is responsible for the extensive coral damage recorded in the Rozul Reef and Escoda Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

She labelled the reports from the Philippine side as Manila “creating a political drama from fiction” and demanded that the country remove the BRP Sierra Madre in the Ayungin Shoal instead.

Teodoro warned Beijing that “disingenuous propaganda lines” would imply its “insincerity and will only heighten the mistrust by the Filipino people and the rest of the world of the Chinese government.”

As of this posting, the Department of Foreign Affairs is still waiting for the complete assessment of relevant government agencies on the environmental damage in Rozul Reef.

The Office of the Solicitor General is also studying legal options on the coral reef destruction, including the possible filing of a complaint for damages before the PCA. 

And, the Philippines, United States, and Japan will craft a “work plan” that would advance their trilateral co-operation, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Saturday as the three states explore ways to further promote peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, US State Secretary Antony Blinken, and Japanese Foreign Minister Kamikawa Yoko convened the 2nd trilateral ministerial meeting among the three states on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Sept. 23.

DFA Spokesperson Ma. Teresita Daza said the ministers “will come up with a work plan” after discussing possible activities under the trilateral cooperation.

The US State Department said the officials also agreed to “continue to call out behavior that is inconsistent with international law,” including China’s recent actions near Ayungin Shoal that interfered with the Philippines’ lawful exercise of high seas freedom of navigation.”

On the security cooperation, the ministers sought ways to enhance their countries’ partnership on maritime domain awareness, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief efforts.

“They committed to uphold our shared values of freedom, democracy, and respect for human rights, and reaffirmed our shared vision, as equal and sovereign partners, for a free and open Indo-Pacific region that upholds international law,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said.

The three officials also discussed ways to support economic resiliency and enhance engagements on energy, infrastructure, and digital economy issues.

In his remarks, Blinken said the US looks forward to strengthening the partnership ”to maintain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific, and also to foster, to strengthen economic resilience, and to promote the common prosperity of our people.”

“I think all three countries believe strongly that our collaboration, not only on a bilateral basis but on a trilateral basis, can produce very positive benefits not only for our countries but also for other countries and partners in the region and beyond,” he said.

Kamikawa, meanwhile, underscored the importance of “multilayered collaboration with allies and like-minded countries” for upholding a rules-based order, especially with what Japan labelled as “recent severe strategic environment” in the region, including the situation in the South China Sea.

The meeting builds on the September trilateral talks among President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., US Vice President Kamala Harris, and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio.

Manalo, Blinken, and former Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa convened the first Philippine-US-Japan ministerial meeting in Jakarta in July.

The US State Department said the three states would continue to meet trilaterally to “enhance this growing relationship and a free and open Indo-Pacific.”  

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