Amid public clamor, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs recently aired “very serious concern” over China’s deployment of strike aircraft in the South China Sea, although the response was silent on Beijing’s installation of missile systems on three Manila-claimed reefs.
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Alejano hits Cayetano: Filing a diplomatic protest is not a shouting match
Ian Nicolas Cigaral (Philstar.com) - May 30, 2018 - 5:29pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines’ top diplomat and a lawmaker on Wednesday clashed over the Duterte administration’s failure even to file a diplomatic protest against China’s militarization in the disputed South China Sea, as Beijing increases its power projection capabilities in the strategic waterway.

The Philippines claims parts of the South China Sea within its exclusive economic zone and calls it the West Philippine Sea.

President Rodrigo Duterte has been under fire over his apparent refusal to confront China, which recently landed nuclear-capable strategic bombers and installed missile systems on outposts in the contested waters.

At a Congressional briefing, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and security officials took pains to defend the Duterte administration’s strategy in dealing with Beijing, saying the Philippines doesn’t want to embarrass the Asian power by engaging in a “shouting match.”

“What do they want? China wants to be responsible citizen of the world. They are a world power or at least a rising world power and they want to be seen, viewed and related to as following the rule law or at least international law,” Cayetano said.

“So of course they’re affected too when we’re in a shouting match and calling them names and everything,” he added.

Red line

But Cayetano’s explanation did not sit well with former Marine officer turned lawmaker Rep. Gary Alejano (Magdalo Partylist), who pointed out that “filing a diplomatic protest is not a shouting match.”

“When you said the red line for China is not to embarrass them, what constitutes embarrassing them? Anything that you say against them will embarrass them? I think that’s their premise,” Alejano told Cayetano.

“Now peace and stability to them is agreeing with them. So for us we are now surrendering ourselves because we wanted to appease China and what they want,” he added.

“Once they establish the norm there, you cannot remove them.”

Ties between China and the Philippines soured after the previous Aquino administration filed a case in 2013 with a United Nations-backed tribunal. The ruling, which favors Manila, was handed down a few days after Duterte assumed the presidency.

But China vehemently rejected the landmark decision, which Duterte put on the back burner in exchange for warmer ties and Chinese funding for his administration’s ambitious infrastructure program.

Duterte earlier said it’s pointless to protest Beijing’s deployment of its air assets to the contested waters and dared his critics to “go to war with China.”

Amid public clamor, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs recently aired “very serious concern” over China’s deployment of strike aircraft in the South China Sea, although the response was silent on Beijing’s installation of missile systems on three Manila-claimed reefs.

The DFA added that its diplomatic actions to certain developments in the sea row might not be publicized.

“We don’t want to go to shouting match with China and what is unfortunate is it is the president saying that war is the only solution,” Alejano said.

“It’s even the president saying or threatening the whole Filipino people that if we will assert our rights there, then we’re walloped because China will attack us,” he added.

“As a sovereign country, no matter how small we are, we should assert that.”

ALAN PETER CAYETANO GARY ALEJANO SOUTH CHINA SEA
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