Too greedy

THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - April 7, 2021 - 12:00am

"Walk the talk". Simple enough. This is the statement of Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers to Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana after some of the most direct and stern statements ever to come from the good secretary regarding the Chinese ships that have intruded into the country's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) at the Julian Felipe Reef and Union Banks. The presence of such a large number of what were reported to be fishing vessels is suspicious, reaching more than two hundred since last year. The maritime militia took advantage of the pandemic and sailed to the said areas until they could no longer conceal their presence. From the perspective of the aircraft that flew in to investigate they do not seem to be doing anything. But I wouldn't be surprised if they are fishing vessels and operate under the cover of night when we do not have the capability of monitoring them. The environment and habitat around that area may already be devastated by illegal fishing and harvesting.

Secretary Lorenzana has demanded the ships leave our EEZ stating he is no fool. The reasoning of bad weather leading to the vessels seeking refuge no longer holds water, pun intended. There is no bad weather anywhere. But I scoffed at his statement that China wants to occupy the West Philippine Sea. They have been doing so since 2016 and even earlier, having the wealth and military might to do so. They have already created artificial islands complete with runways and military structures and equipment. Now other areas are suspiciously being studied for possibly another artificial island.

Despite harsh words from some members of his Cabinet, President Rodrigo Duterte said he wanted a peaceful resolution to the issue of the Chinese vessels because China is a friend. No surprises there. What is surprising is the temerity of the Chinese embassy to label Lorenzana's statements as "unprofessional". So much for a friend with less than diplomatic means to address an issue. Of course, China insists most of the West Philippine Sea is part of their territory, hence they have a right to be wherever they please. They simply shrug off any protest filed by the DFA, no matter how verbose its secretary is. Many officials support Sec. Lorenzana. It is time to assert our sovereignty over the islands in the West Philippine Sea. But Sec. Barbers is right in saying we need to act to protect that sovereignty. China is too greedy and utilizing bullying tactics to claim what an international tribunal decided is not theirs. Our resources may be limited, but act we must just the same.

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