Countermeasures in place?

THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez - The Freeman

President Bongbong Marcos Jr. is in America for the historic summit with the presidents of America and Japan. At issue is the security of the region, particularly the West and South China Sea in light of China's continued bullying of the Philippines. This gathering will take place a week after China again used water cannons on our ships heading to Ayungin Shoal.

A large maritime exercise was held in the South China Sea that included the navies of America, Japan, Australia, and the Philippines. Naturally, China was not happy about this and blamed the Philippines for exacerbating the conflict that was already happening in the ocean. At the same time, they conducted naval exercises of their own. But who uses water cannons on our vessels? Who executes dangerous blocking maneuvers and at times hits our ships? China needs common sense before reacting, but they don't seem to use it.

US National Security Communications Adviser John Kirby said China should not overreact to the recently conducted quadrilateral naval exercises. Everything is done according to international maritime law where freedom of navigation, and overflight in areas covered by international law is guaranteed. In other words, areas not owned by any country. The problem with China's thinking is that they own the entire ocean and air in the South China Sea, which no one on the planet agrees with. Now that such an exercise by four nations, three with powerful military forces, was conducted, China overreacts. These navies cannot easily be bullied or threatened.

In light of the most recent use of water cannons on our vessels, President Marcos Jr. promised a “countermeasure package that is proportionate, deliberate, and reasonable.” It was not elaborated. Perhaps if another similar incident occurs, we will see what those countermeasures are. He stressed the Philippines is not looking for trouble. We are just defending what is rightfully ours. He also calls on ASEAN nations to get in on peacefully securing the region.

Another issue that has not been explained is the supposed verbal agreement between Xi Jinping and Rodrigo Duterte regarding the situation in the South China Sea. Many immediately reacted saying it was against the country's maritime rights and sovereignty. Former spokesperson Roque immediately clarified that the agreement was only verbal and should not necessarily be accepted by the current administration. What exactly is that agreement that President Marcos was horrified with? Does it include the controversial statement about removing the BRP Sierra Madre from its location in Ayungin Shoal? It seems the current administration is in the dark and would like some answers or explanations from officials of the former administration who can’t seem to get their stories straight.

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