Diplomatic protest against China’s airstrip construction pushed

Diplomatic protest against China’s airstrip construction pushed

An aerial view of the Fiery Cross Reef that was transformed into military airstrip | Photo by Philstar.com

Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) urged the government to file a diplomatic protest against China for its complete transformation of the Kagitingan Reef (international known as Fiery Cross Reef) into a full scale military airbase.

Kagitingan Reef is part of the disputed Kalayaan Group of Islands in the Spratly Region of the South China Sea. It is part of the country’s 220-naughtical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ). On 2004, China has begun to construct artificial island in the reef.

Recent report from the Hong Kong-based news site shows that the reclaimed island now features a 3, 125-meter runway for 6K strategic bombers to land.

“The Philippine government must pursue filing a diplomatic protest to condemn and expose Beijing’s aggressive usurpation in our marine territory. China destroys not only our marine biodiversity but also the livelihood of our Filipino fishermen who used to fish in the West Philippine Sea. The continuous reclamation of our waters in the West Philippine Sea is also a threat to our domestic supply of fish products,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.

PAMALAKAYA slams Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana for its hesitation to file a diplomatic protest against China, citing that the Secretary’s stance is to prove first that there is indeed militarization all over the Kagitingan Reef before protesting Beijing. The group said Lorenzana is not capable of being a defense chief because of his dilly-dallying attitude toward defending the territory.

Why would Secretary Lorenzana have to wait for the complete militarization of Kagitingan Reef before filing a diplomatic protest? It seems that the complete transformation of our resource-rich reef into military airbase is not enough for the government to get alarmed over this outright foreign invasion. The government’s indecisive action is the reason why China has been able to swiftly reclaim our waters and construct military facilities without us knowing,” said Hicap.

The group also calls to assert the international tribunal ruling that invalidates China’s claim over our waters. ###

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