NSA welcomes G7 stance vs maritime aggression

Pia Lee-Brago - The Philippine Star
NSA welcomes G7 stance vs maritime aggression
A Chinese Coast Guard ship sails beside the boat number 2 of the Atin Ito civilian resupply mission in the vicinity of the Bajo de Masinloc at the West Philippine Sea on May 15, 2024.
STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — By supporting the Philippines against China’s harassment at sea and flouting of international law, the world’s seven richest and most influential countries comprising the Group of Seven (G7) have made a “significant affirmation” of the importance of rules-based order, National Security Adviser Eduardo Año said over the weekend.

“The resolute stance of the G7 nations against the dangerous use of coast guard and maritime militia in the South China Sea, particularly the obstruction of high seas freedom of navigation, is a significant affirmation of the principles of international law and the rules-based international order,” Año said in a statement on Saturday.

On the last day of its summit in Italy on Saturday, the G7 voiced its support for the Philippine position on the West Philippine Sea issue and reaffirmed its disapproval of China’s sweeping claims as well as its militarization in the South China Sea and East China Sea. It’s in East China Sea where the Shikoku group of islets being contested by Japan and China is located.

The G7 is composed of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“We appreciate the G7’s explicit condemnation of the increasing use of dangerous maneuvers and water cannons against Philippine vessels. This acknowledgment underscores the international community’s recognition of the threats faced by our nation and reaffirms the importance of upholding the rule of law in maritime disputes,” Año said.

“We stand with the G7 in opposing China’s militarization, coercive actions, and intimidation activities in the region,” he pointed out.

“The G7’s reiteration of the significance of the 2016 Arbitral Award is a vital reminder that this ruling is legally binding. It serves as a crucial basis for the peaceful resolution of disputes,” he added, referring to the ruling issued by the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague. The ruling, which stemmed from a case filed in 2013 by the Aquino administration, invalidated Beijing’s nine-dash line claim and reaffirmed the Philippines’ maritime entitlements.

“We look forward to continued collaboration with the G7 and the international community in general in upholding maritime law and ensuring that the South China Sea remains a zone of peace, freedom, and cooperation,” Año maintained.

China a ‘pariah’

For Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, the G7’s statement has made China a pariah.

“The G7 declaration of support, together with similar pronouncements from allies of the Philippines in this part of the world, including Australia, New Zealand and Japan, is proof that we are winning the battle against China in the international community,” Rodriguez, chairman of the House committee on constitutional amendments, said.

In a statement, the Cagayan de Oro City congressman said the G7 declaration has made Beijing a “pariah before the world because no nation would want to be at the receiving end of another country’s aggressive activities.”

“In our case, Beijing’s aggression is taking place inside our own 200-mile exclusive economic zone,” Rodriguez said.

In a pastoral letter titled “Lord Save Us! We are Perishing,” Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said the threat from China is “no longer imagined and no longer mere conjecture.”

“There is evidence of insidious attempts by a foreign power that governs by an ideology that recognizes no God and keeps all religion and the practice of faith under the heavy heel of its totalitarian boot ‘to trample our sacred shores,’” Villegas said.

“The network of agents it maintains and is capable of deploying, including those involved in espionage and even subversive activity, will not be denied by anyone who makes it his business to keep himself abreast of disturbing news reports,” he said in his three-page pastoral letter.

“The People’s Republic of China shows neither fear nor does it exhibit hesitation in inching menacingly close to the Philippines,” he added.

In Beijing’s payroll

He cited the possibility that the government has been infiltrated by people on Beijing’s payroll or by Filipinos willing to betray their country and undermine its sovereignty to repay favors from China.

Investigations conducted by both the Senate and the House of Representatives “have made clear that due to the lackadaisical, if not criminal, conduct of many government personnel, it is now impossible for foreigners with malicious intent to acquire documentation allowing them not only entry but residence in the Philippines, perhaps even to pass themselves off as natural-born Filipino citizens and thus qualify for public office,” Villegas said.

The Pangasinan prelate also called on legislators to be resolute in their investigations and forthright in reporting to the people the extent of infiltration into the country’s national and local institutions by Chinese agents and lackeys.

He also asked prosecutors and judges to prosecute and punish those who have made a mockery of the legal and administrative processes that allowed foreigners to harm the country’s security and interests.

He also praised the men and women in uniform who patrol the Philippine waters, providing escort to fishermen and defending the country’s territory. He expressed hope they are receiving sufficient support from the government.

“Take courage. Defend our seas and our people. Be the heroes we need now,” he added, addressing military and civilian personnel involved in patrolling and defending the country’s territorial waters who bear the brunt of Chinese harassment.

“I call on every Filipino, particularly those in the Archdiocese off Lingayen-Dagupan to stand proud and tall and not to cower in fear lest our sacred rights are trampled on,” Villegas also said.

Villegas has also voiced opposition to Philippine offshore gaming operator, saying monetary gains from POGOs “are overshadowed completely by the threat they carry with them.”

Recent raids on some POGO establishments had exposed the “evil” offshoots of POGO such as human trafficking, torture and money laundering. He said POGO businesses should not receive legal protection anymore and, instead, be outlawed.

Villegas also said that apart from political, military and security issues, China’s transgression also affects moral and social issues as Filipino fishermen are being deprived of the resources God has made available to everyone. He said Filipinos have the right to defend nature against destructive forces—particularly greed and arrogance.

The Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop is also inviting the faithful to take part in a Rosary Campaign from June 27 until the Solemnity of the Assumption on Aug. 15. —Delon Porcalla, Evelyn Macairan

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