Out of step – Manila Standard Mobile
The swarm of Chinese ships in the western Philippine Sea has united most Filipinos, who oppose the incursion as an unacceptable case of bullying by our powerful neighbor to the north. But one of the few exceptions, it seems, is the president, who seems out of step with the rest of the nation when he remains silent in the face of Chinese aggression.
Since coming to power, President Duterte has touted his pivot to China as the country’s great hope to accelerate its development with the help of Chinese investments and loans. In exchange for this “goodwill,” the president overturned a landmark 2016 arbitral award in favor of the Philippines in its territorial dispute with China. Speaking of his “independent foreign policy,” the president declined to say a negative word about China’s illegal military activities in the western Philippine Sea – including the sinking of a Philippine fishing boat that was struck by a Chinese trawler in 2019 – all the while maintaining a flood of angry anti-American rhetoric. In the latest version of this reluctance to criticize China, the president said nothing about a report that Chinese navy vessels harassed a Philippine fishing boat carrying reporters on their way to an occupied shoal. by the Philippines in the western Philippine Sea, in the waters of the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Asked for comment, the president’s spokesman said the palace would “defer” to the Foreign Ministry and the National Defense Ministry to comment on the latest incident after Manila protested over the presence of more than 200 ships belonging to the Chinese maritime militia in Julian. Felipe Reef (Whitsun) in the country’s EEZ.
The Chinese Coast Guard vessel with bow number 5101 chased the Philippine fishing vessel for about an hour before turning back. But about 145 miles from Palawan, two Chinese Navy Houbei-Class Type 22 rapid attack craft armed with missiles resumed pursuit for another 30 minutes before separating. Perhaps taking inspiration from the palace, the military expressed in a statement its concern over the incident, but also called on journalists to “exercise caution in carrying out their duties” – a vague suggestion that ‘They shouldn’t have been in Philippine waters in the first place, or that they were somehow to blame for being harassed. Fortunately, the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs more strongly condemned the latest measures taken by China. It’s the kind of backbone we wish to see from the Palace – but perhaps all the years of body aches outside Beijing have taken a toll on the posture of its occupants.
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