"Are we the target? Should we be alarmed? I do not think so because we are not at war with China," National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said.
Presidential Photo, File
Esperon: No need to protest China's bombers in South China Sea
Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - May 30, 2018 - 11:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Echoing China's justification of deploying a bomber aircraft in the South China Sea, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. stressed that Beijing's activities are not directed at Manila.

Esperon said that the Chinese Air Force's deployment of a nuclear-capable bomber aircraft on Woody Island in the Paracels should not be a cause for alarm.

"Are we the target? Should we be alarmed? I do not think so because we are not at war with China and we are not at war with ASEAN," Esperon said during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum.

"Should we launch a protest against that? I don't think so," he added.

The national security adviser added that the Paracel Islands are not part of the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.

The bombers have a range of 1,900 kilometers and China could launch missiles from Hong Kong and reach Manila as it is only about 1,200 kilometers away, according to Esperon.

"Not to defend that landing there, it is an incident that is part of the drill for landing but the purpose of that must be looked into — training," Esperon said.

Incidentally, Esperon's remarks are similar to China's statement over the recent deployment on Woody Island.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said that the deployment of a bomber aircraft on its largest base in the Paracel Islands were "normal training" of the Chinese military.

"The South China Sea Islands are China's territory. The relevant military activities are the normal training of the Chinese military and there is no need for other parties to overinterpret that," Chinese Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said.

Esperon, however, admitted that there is a possibility that China's new weapons in the South China Sea can target the Philippines.

"Can China's defense reach the Philippines? Yes. The question is — are the weapons directed to the Philippine? No. Can they target the Philippines in the future? Possible if you're at war with China," he said.

Following China's latest deployments in the South China Sea, the Department of Foreign Affairs only said that it is taking all diplomatic actions necessary to assert the country's claims in the contested waterway.

The Philippines government, however, has not publicly condemned China for its militarization of the South China Sea unlike Vietnam, also a claimant state, which asked Beijing to withdraw military equipment from the area.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: September 15, 2019 - 4:22pm

The United States Navy's Nimitz-class nuclear powered supercarrier USS John C. Stennis continues underway in the South China Sea.

The US Pacific Command just reported that it has received "cargo" from support ship USNS Rainier in the disputed waters.

September 15, 2019 - 4:22pm

Vice President Leni Robredo chides presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, telling him that he should be better informed of what exactly President Duterte has stated before presenting his own "interpretation," so they can stop contradicting each other in public.

Her statement comes after Panelo called her out for "misplaced and flamboyant remarks" in response to the president's remark about ignoring the arbitral ruling for a joint oil and gas exploration deal with China.

"Litong lito talaga ako, kasi ang sinasabi ni pangulo, iba sa sinasabi niya. Nagsabi si pangulo na i-set aside iyong arbitral ruling; ang sabi niya, hindi iyon iyong gustong sabihin," Robredo says on her weekly radio show, BISErbisyong LENI on RMN-DZXL 558.

Robredo says the administration should put a stop to this "practice" as contradictions between the president's statements and Panelo's "clarifications" only make things even more confusing for the people. 

August 20, 2019 - 8:59pm

The White House accuses China of "bullying tactics" in the increasingly tense waters of the South China Sea and says it will resist Beijing on the dispute.

"China’s recent escalation of efforts to intimidate others out of developing resources in the South China Sea is disturbing," President Donald Trump's national security advisor John Bolton tweets.

"The United States stands firmly with those who oppose coercive behavior and bullying tactics which threaten regional peace and security."




July 31, 2019 - 8:22am

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana should do more than acknowledge China's harassment and bullying of Filipinos in the West Philippine Sea, activist fsherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) says.

"Finally, a high-ranking official from the Duterte administration has recognized that there is an actual harassment of Filipino fishers in our own territorial waters. But we dare Mr. Lorenzana to walk the talk, if he is aware and is already fed up by the Chinese bullying and the subservience of his commander-in-chief Rodrigo Duterte to the foreign aggressor, then he must decisively act to stand with the Filipino fisherfolk and the people in upholding our sovereign and territorial rights," the group says in a statement.

Lorenzana on Tuesday said in response to Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua speech at the anniversary of China's People's Liberation Army that China is a peace-loving nation that he considers China's takeover of Scarborough Shoal, also called Panatag and Bajo de Masinloc, as bullying.

July 11, 2019 - 9:18am

An overwhelming majority of Filipinos believe it is important to that the Philippines regain control of islands in the West Philippine Sea that are occupied by China, the latest Social Weather Stations survey suggests.

SWS says 93% of respondents in its Second Quarter 2019 Social Weather Survey said it is important "that the control of the islands that China currently occupies in the West Philippine Sea be given back to the Philippines," with 74% answering it is "very important" and 19% saying it is "somewhat important".

In contrast, 1% each said it is "somewhat not important" and "not at all important". Another 4% were undecided, SWS says.
"The latest figure of 93% saying it is very important/somewhat important that the Philippines regain control of the China-occupied islands in the West Philippine Sea is 4 points above the 89% (72% very important, 17% somewhat important) in December 2018. It was 87% (72% very important, 15% somewhat important) in September 2018, and also 87% (69% very important, 18% somewhat important) in June 2018," SWS also says.

In the same survey, 89% said it is "not right for the government to leave China alone with its infrastructures and military presence in the claimed territories," SWS says. It adds the proportion has increased steadily in four surveys conducted since June 2018.

July 5, 2019 - 12:37pm

While the Philippines is still verifying the incident, fellow maritime claimant Vietnam joins the United States in raising concern over China's missile test in the South China Sea, which Vietnam calls the "East Sea."

"Vietnam suggests that all activities in the East Sea (South China Sea) should respect sovereignty and legitimate and legal interests of countries and observe international law, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, contributing to regional peace, security, stability and cooperation," Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang says in a statement.

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