THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez - The Freeman

Why would we need permission from the Chinese for access to Ayungin Shoal? Have we conceded to China’s ridiculous claim to all of the South China Sea? National Security Adviser Eduardo Año ensured that was not the case, calling China’s suggestion that the Philippines must first notify China for access to Ayungin Shoal "absurd, nonsense and unacceptable."

China’s actions have recently turned dangerous. Aside from using water cannons, blocking the paths of our boats, and even resorting to ramming, they are now blocking our vessels involved in medical and humanitarian situations. Last May 19, a Chinese Coast Guard vessel was aggressive towards a Philippine vessel evacuating a sick soldier from BRP Sierra Madre. That act was unacceptable and inhumane. It’s hard enough our soldiers endure the hardships of living in a decrepit ship. Imagine getting sick and having to wait for an evacuation that may take days, only to be harassed by the Chinese when help finally arrives.

The number of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea doubled in May last week. The Chinese Navy conducted a unilateral naval drill in Escoda Shoal. These are military vessels, not the Chinese Coast Guard. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a show of force as well as intimidation towards Philippine vessels in the area. All this occurred with the Exclusive Economic Zone of the country which the Chinese never respected. While the country’s coast guard and naval vessels have always adhered to UNCLOS, China refuses to recognize whatever laws, decisions, or agreements concerning the seas. For the Chinese, their military power is all they need to bully everyone else.

There is a suggestion to bring up China’s aggression at the ASEAN summit since several other countries also have their respective claims. The problem is China has some influence on some members of the association, who may block any resolution condemning China’s actions. We need not look far to experience China’s influence. Some lawmakers are not in favor of raising Chinese issues at ASEAN. Remember, the last administration was known for fawning over China. From the president down to officials in the Cabinet. With a new government in place that has decided to rekindle its relationship with the United States, China finds itself without a champion in the country.

The recent show of aggression and unacceptable actions by the Chinese has to stop. We are being pushed to the limits of our patience. Interfering with the evacuation of a sick soldier is just too much. Not even humanitarian situations cause China to give pause to its bullying. What is next on their agenda is something to be concerned with. The West Philippine Sea has truly turned into a hotspot.

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