THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - August 31, 2020 - 12:00am

It is quite refreshing to hear some government officials pushing back against the ridiculous claims and statements of China with regards to the South China Sea. What we normally see are officials following the footsteps of President Duterte in getting into the good graces of China. Defense Secretary Lorenzana recently criticized China's statement that the Philippines should "stop illegal provocations". This after our planes conducted flights over Panatag Shoal. Lorenzana asserted that Panatag Shoal is well within our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) so we have the right to fly in the area. What China should do is to "stop issuing illicit issuances of radio challenges" to our pilots as they conduct legitimate patrols in the area.

China was reacting to the DFA protesting the confiscation of Filipino fishing equipment by the Chinese Coast Guard last May. No word if those items have been returned. As if our fishermen have not had enough of the Chinese. I have mentioned many times the continued Chinese radio threats to our pilots be it military or civilian aircraft. DFA Secretary Locsin also shot down a request to place a Philippine Coast Guard attaché in the Beijing embassy, saying it would be "tantamount to conceding exclusive sovereignty over the Philippines' coastal waters". Good for him, for a change.

Locsin also wants to ban companies that made artificial islands in the South China Sea from participating in the country's infrastructure projects. The project to develop the airport at Sangley Point in Cavite is being led by a company that has been banned by the United States for the aforementioned reason. Indeed, why would the same company that built artificial islands in territories we are also claiming be allowed to develop an airport here? But I sincerely doubt Duterte would cancel the contract with China Communications Construction Co. (CCCC) on Locsin's request. That he is "inutil" against the Chinese might be brought up.

It is time to push back against China's baseless claims. Their Nine-Dash-Line has already been debunked by a United Nations Tribunal. They have created islands that are clearly for the use of their military. We still have soldiers aboard a decrepit ship in Ayungin Shoal who constantly need supplies. Supply runs are often blocked or harassed by the Chinese Coast Guard. Still, we cannot give that ship up. The AFP should conduct even more flights to Panatag Shoal and other places within our EEZ. We should take advantage of the fact we are not alone in pushing back against Chinese claims and bullying. The US Navy currently has several warships sailing the South China Sea, enraging China even more. Other countries also conduct freedom of navigation. We should keep our guard up lest we become a province of China, which some Chinese idiots in Binondo thought has already happened.

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