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Palace mum on embassy reminder

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Palace mum on embassy reminder
Press Secretary Trixie Cruz0-Angeles speaks to members of the press on July 29, 2023 at the Malacañan Palace.
OPS / Released

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang declined to comment on China’s remark that the Philippines must strictly abide by the “One China” policy and is leaving it up to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to talk about the matter.

“There is no reaction. Usually, when it’s matters of international relations, we take time to study the matter and do not react immediately. Loose words might affect relationships (that are) very difficult to rebuild,” Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said at yesterday’s Palace press briefing.

“So, we will take our cue from the Department of Foreign Affairs if such a reaction is even warranted,” Angeles added.

The Palace official stressed that any knee-jerk reaction “could adversely affect international relations.”

“Suffice it to say, that our military and our DFA are closely monitoring the situation as they would in any other similar circumstance,” she said. The Chinese embassy earlier reminded the Philippines to “strictly abide” by the One-China principle. This call from the embassy was made by Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian ahead of United States Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, which has raised tension between Washington and Beijing.

In a television interview, Huang expressed Beijing’s firm opposition to Pelosi’s visit in Taiwan, stressing that “the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China.”

“It is our hope that the Philippine side will strictly abide by the ‘One China’ principle and handle all Taiwan-related issues with prudence to ensure sound and steady development of China-Philippines relations,” Huang said.

He added that the “One China” principle is an international consensus and universally recognized basic norm governing international relations, noting that it is also the “political foundation of China-Philippines relations.”

The US, according to the ambassador, made a solemn commitment to China that the US pursues a “One China” policy and does not support “Taiwan independence.”

He said the US side also promised that the American people will maintain only cultural, commercial and other unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan.

He added that as one of the three branches of the US government, the US Congress should adhere to the “One China” policy.

Situation in Taiwan

Yesterday, the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) said the situation in Taiwan is normal and that majority of the people do not see an attack by China against the self-governing island at this point.

MECO chairperson Silvestre Bello III, however, said their office and the three Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) have always been prepared for any eventuality.

“Even before the visit of Speaker Pelosi, these preparations have been in place already in Taiwan and our people in Taiwan; and based on their assessment, there is no serious threat,” Bello, the Philippine representative to Taiwan, told The STAR.

President Marcos earlier issued a directive to the MECO to closely monitor the situation and always be prepared for any eventuality.

There are over 100,000 Filipinos working and staying in Taiwan.

“We have a contingency plan in placed and ready for execution in case of a China invasion,” Bello said as he assured the safety of all Filipinos.

He added that among their preparations with the three POLOs are a contingency plan ready for execution; maintaining contact with the Taiwan Office of the Civil Defense, the Ministries of Defense and of Labor and relevant agencies; evacuation areas and bomb shelter identified; and places of work and factories required to have shelter and food provision for at least two weeks.

When Pelosi’s plan to visit Taiwan was made public, speculations that China would attack Taiwan were rife as Chinese President Xi Jinping warned of “serious consequences” of such a visit.

Rocket debris

Meanwhile, the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) yesterday confirmed that a torn metal sheet found by fishermen floating in the waters off Occidental Mindoro last Tuesday was debris from a Long March 5B (CZ-5B) rocket of China.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Tuesday reported the retrieval of the torn metal sheet from the West Philippine Sea, 100 miles off the coast of Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro.

Found earlier by fishermen, the metal sheet bears a part of the Chinese flag and a portion of the marking of the Long March 5B rocket, which was launched on July 24 and re-entered the atmosphere on July 31.

“Upon visual verification, the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) confirms that the debris was part of CZ-5B,” the PhilSA said, noting that it is not part of the components that re-entered the atmosphere last July 31 over the Indian Ocean.

“The debris retrieved by PCG Mamburao was identified to be part of the CZ-5B’s payload fairing, which detaches from the rocket as it enters outer space during launch. These discarded rocket stages are usually designed and planned to shed over specific dropzones,” it added.

Dropzones are usually bodies of water and are selected to minimize hazards of falling in populated areas, according to the agency.

Before the rocket launch last July 24, the PhilSA said it had proactively issued an advisory to all relevant government agencies about the launch and the estimated dropzone locations of the rocket debris.

“Teams have been mobilized and prepared to implement coordination protocols with other national government agencies for the issuance of actionable information as necessary, during the debris re-entry on 31 July,” the agency said.?

It cautioned against retrieving these materials because fallen rocket debris may contain remnants of toxic substances such as rocket fuel.

Maritime harassment

In another development, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said it has no information yet about the latest reported harassment of a Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources supply ship by a Chinese Coast Guard vessel in the West Philippine Sea.

Col. Medel Aguilar, the military’s acting spokesperson, said he could not comment yet on the alleged incident where China’s vessel allegedly trained its guns on the BFAR ship that was carrying rations to soldiers stationed at the grounded BRP Sierra Madre.??

“I have yet to receive information about the alleged incident if it did happen,” Aguilar told The STAR yesterday.

Likewise, the Department of National Defense has not yet commented on the harassment incident that supposedly took place on June 27. – Pia Lee-Brago, Mayen Jaymalin, Rainier Allan Ronda, Michael Punongbayan

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