PAMALAKAYA hits AFP’s “slow-paced response on Beijing’s flaunt of force” in West Philippine Sea
Manila, Philippines – “Now what’s the next operation plan for our armed forces amid the continuing presence of Chinese ships in our territory? We expect our defense sector to at least enforce the basic rules of engagement through a peaceful confrontation to drive away the Chinese vessels out of our waters,” according to the activist fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA), demanding the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Department of National Defense (DND) to “act decisively and accordingly” on what the group called as China’s “blatant display of force” in the Philippine waters.
In a statement, the fishers’ group expressed disappointment over the Philippine government’s “snail-paced line of attack” on the reported presence of now 183 from the previous 220 “Chinese militia vessels” in Julian Felipe Reef (Whitsun Reef), a West Philippine Sea feature located 175 nautical miles from the town of Bataraza, Palawan province.
“Why is the government’s response to this obviously foreign invasion of our territory so slow? It’s been more than two weeks since the Chinese vessels were spotted in our waters and yet the armed and defense forces seem to be stuck on a passive monitoring stage. Their tedious actions contradict to the word defense itself, they only act as spectators,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.
The fishers’ group earlier criticized the diplomatic protest filed by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) as “weak and insufficient” especially if it was not accompanied by a “determining assertion” that would drive away the Chinese militias.
PAMALAKAYA reiterated its call to China to recognize the 2016 ruling of the UN-backed permanent court of arbitration that invalidated Beijing’s sweeping claims over the almost entire South China Sea, which covers the Julian Felipe Reef in Kalayaan Islands. ###