No China reclamation in Panatag â DND
The Department of National Defense (DND) denied yesterday reports that China was conducting reclamation activities in the disputed Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal in Zambales.
File photo
No China reclamation in Panatag – DND
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - October 18, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of National Defense (DND) denied yesterday reports that China was conducting reclamation activities in the disputed Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal in Zambales.

Defense Undersecretary Eduardo del Rosario told the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon, that separate reports from the Armed Forces Northern Luzon Command and the Navy showed there was no reclamation in the area.

The committee is conducting an inquiry into the destructive mining in Zambales since 2013 where the soil from mountains in the province was being used for reclamation activities of China in the disputed waters as alleged by Gov. Amor Deloso in a previous hearing.

“Perhaps in other areas, not in Bajo de Masinloc,” Del Rosario told the panel.

The official, however, said the Navy last Sept. 18 monitored four Chinese coast guard ships and two fishing vessels in the area.

Deloso accused his predecessor, Hermogenes Ebdane, of “selling two and half mountains” in Sta. Cruz town to the Chinese, which soil and rocks were used for the reclamation of a 3,500-hectare island at the disputed shoal.

Ebdane denied the allegations, saying he could not sell something he does not own.

“The so-called presence of the Chinese military is ridiculous. Perhaps an overflight by the Philippine Air Force can confirm the veracity of the same,” Ebdane said.

He also disputed allegations that a Chinese missile silo was built underneath the mountains of Sta. Cruz.

Deloso later told the panel that he had no personal knowledge of the supposed reclamation, saying he based his information on a report in a newspaper (not The STAR).

The governor’s admission prompted Gordon to scold him as his allegations were one of the reasons the committee was conducting the inquiry.

“You know statements had been made here, and now you’re saying I’ve no personal knowledge. The chair admonishes you therefore, Governor Deloso, that you should not make statements unless you have personal knowledge,” Gordon said. 

‘Contempt’

The committee will also ask Director Rodolfo Dan Arsaga Jr. of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) to explain why he should not be cited in contempt after presenting to the panel supposedly classified photographs of a secret Chinese missile silo that were later found out to be lifted from a satirical website.

Arsaga in a previous hearing of the panel sought an executive session where he presented the photos that were taken from a website on the internet, which stated the specific article on the missile silo “is partly for satirical and entertainment purposes and the events should not be construed as pure facts, although the mentioned tangible objects exist.”

Arsaga was a no-show at yesterday’s hearing.

Sen. Vicente Sotto III said it would have been forgivable if the NICA acknowledged the photos were taken from a website but they were passed off as a classified intelligence report.

Gordon and Sotto moved to have NICA’s budget of P700 million reviewed or even slashed over the incident.

“This is amazing. This is the state of intelligence in this country. We’re in trouble,” Gordon said.

Peter Tiangco, administrator of the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority, showed to the panel the effects of mining by four firms – Benguet Corp. Nickel Mining Inc., Zambales Diversified Metals Corp., Eramen Minerals Inc. and Filipinas Mining Corp – in Zambales.

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