'Unacceptable': Senators decry Chinese Coast Guard blocking Philippine boats anew

Bella Perez-Rubio - Philstar.com
'Unacceptable': Senators decry Chinese Coast Guard blocking Philippine boats anew
In this photo taken March 29, 2014, an aerial view shows a Philippines Navy vessel that has been grounded since 1999 to assert the nation's sovereignty over the Second Thomas Shoal, a remote South China Sea reef also claimed by China.
AFP / Jay Directo

MANILA, Philippines — At least three senators on Thursday strongly condemned the China Coast Guard's derailing of a supply mission in the West Philippine Sea. 

China Coast Guards ships on November 16 blocked and water cannoned two Philippine supply boats on their way to Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, forcing them to abort their mission, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said in a statement, citing a report from the armed forces' Western Command in Palawan. 

"This is an outright and unacceptable violation of our sovereign rights and jurisdiction," Sen. Risa Hontiveros, a reelectionist, said in a statement written partially in Filipino. "I have long been angry at China’s blatant abuse of our rights and oceans." 

Meanwhile, Sen. Richard Gordon, also seeking reelection, said China's actions were "illegal," emphasizing that "Ayungin Shoal remains part of the Philippines in its Kalayaan Island Group, as well as its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf."

"[T]he Constitution explicitly states that we have sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction over it," he added. 

Sen. Francis Pangilinan, a vice-presidential candidate, also chimed in, saying in Filipino: "We will not allow our islands to be occupied or our soldiers to be disrespected." 

Locsin said the Philippines has protested the incident, reassuring that the "Philippines will continue to provide supplies to our troops in Ayungin Shoal." He also warned China that "a public vessel is covered by the Philippines-United States Mutual Defense Treaty."

Both Gordon and Hontiveros expressed support for Locsin's response to the incident. 

Duterte urged to condemn incident, take action 

"I also call on Malacanang to strongly condemn this incident," Hontiveros said.

"Let us show our military personnel, the very same people who risk their lives for our country, that we will always defend them." 

Meanwhile, Gordon, whose relationship with President Rodrigo Duterte has soured in recent months, said that "[a]s commander-in-chief, the president should spearhead the protection of our troops and our people." 

Duterte has generally steered clear of condemning China's actions in the West Philippine Sea despite the slew of incursions and aggressions that the superpower has perpetrated throughout his term. He has also continued to pursue close ties with Beijing. 

In 2019, the Chinese coast guard similarly blocked Filipino vessels on a resupply mission to BRP Sierra Madre that has been grounded on Ayungin Shoal since 1999 to assert the country's sovereignty over the area. Malacañang at the time would not condemn the incident, instead calling it "objectionable" and saying it would leave the rest up to Locsin. 

READ: Jet ski boast was pledge to assert sovereignty in West Philippine Sea — analysts

"We recognize that we, like the rest of the world, cannot even wear our underpants without China," Pangilinan said. "And the 2022 election will determine what happens to our country." 

"The question for all of us: Are you willing to sell the land you live on? The future of our children and grandchildren?" 

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