Latest News for Philippine Defense

Gov’t willing victim to China ‘invasion’ – opposition

By CRISOSTOMO ARAGON

Opposition congressmen on Friday assailed the government for allowing China to invade the Philippines through the continued militarization of the reefs in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) which is being claimed by the country.

“The installation of armament in the disputed island is not just security threat but (also) tantamount to invading our country. We can seek the help of the US as contained in our (Mutual) Defense Treaty,” Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice told reporters.

Erice was referring to China’s installation of anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems on Kagitingan (Fiery Cross), Zamora (Subi), and Panganiban (Mischief) reefs.

A stalwart of the Liberal Party (LP),  Erice challenged the government to “condemn in the strongest terms the militarization of the disputed islands.”

“It’s an invasion and a display of lack of respect for a country whose leader has continuously shown a public display of affection to the Chinese government. Government inaction would mean subservience to China,” he also said.

The US-based news agency CNBC earlier reported that China might have moved the missiles to the reefs during the past 30 days.

It was the first Chinese missile deployment in the Spratly Islands, where several Asian countries, including Vietnam and Taiwan, have rival claims.

Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, a former rebel soldier, said the Duterte administration needs to be roused from stupor now that China has become a real threat to national security.

“I call on the Duterte administration to wake up from its long doze, silence, and inaction. Let us not let China’s sweet talks of investments and loans lull us into a false sense of security. Their actions belie their pronouncements. All of these are just traps,” he said.

Alejano said the government “must raise this matter in all possible forums as a grave concern not only to us but the whole region.”

“The recent events also heighten the need to have a legally binding Code of Conduct as soon as possible,” said the lawmaker, who, like Erice, is a member of the seven-man opposition bloc in the House of Representatives.

Alejano said China continued to militarize the WPS despite its repeated pronouncements that it would not do it.

The missiles were installed in the Spratlys after the Chinese placed military jamming equipment and built a monument on its reclaimed islands, he said.

The Chinese missiles are reportedly located in Zamora Reef (Subi), Kagitingan Reef (Fiery Cross), and Panganiban Reef (Mischief) that are approximately just 13 nautical miles (nm), 103 nm, and 117 nm away from Pag-asa Island, respectively.

Pag-asa is the largest Philippine-controlled island out of the nine features in the Spratlys that the country is claiming.

Alejano said the distance of Pag-asa Island from the closest missile in Subi Reef is around the same as that of Quezon City to Taguig City.

The lawmaker also noted that with a range of 295  and 160 nautical miles, the Chinese missiles could target vessels as far as the waters of Balabac, Palawan.#