MANILA, Apr 5 (Mabuhay) –A lawmaker on Monday lambasted China for saying that Julian Felipe Reef is part of China’s Nansha Islands or Spratlys in the South China Sea.
In a press statement, Surigao del Norte Representative Robert “Ace” Barbers said China’s claim is a grave insult to the Philippines, adding that it is also revolting and sickening.
“For hundreds of years, China never laid claim on these territories within the West Philippine Sea, which are part of our exclusive economic zone and recognized by international bodies and many countries. Suddenly and just recently, it was like magic that the entire West Philippine Sea became theirs,” Barbers said.
“This method or process of annexation should never be countenanced, not by any self-respecting Philippine government nor any sovereign nation and international body for that matter,” he added.
Barbers stressed that the Philippines’ territory does not come cheap and is never for sale or for trade.
“Neither are we ceding any portion of our territory in exchange for anything or for fear of being bullied any further. This is not the Treaty of Paris nor the Opium War. The blood spilt by our forefathers is priceless,” Barbers said.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has called on China to stop conducting illegal activities in the resource-rich region and respect the country’s sovereignty.
He asked the remaining 44 Chinese vessels near Julian Felipe Reef to leave the area. Lorenzana said the continuing presence of the foreign vessels in the area only shows China’s intent to further occupy areas in the West Philippine Sea.
Barbers lauded Lorenzana for demanding Chinese vessels to leave the area.
However, he said the Defense chief should “walk the talk” and deploy naval ships to defend the Philippines’ territorial rights.
“Why then can we not send our naval ships to impose our presence and show our resolve to defend our territory? This is already a creeping invasion, are we waiting for the naval armada of the enemy to be paraded before our eyes before we even try to lift a finger?” he said.
Naval assets have been conducting patrols in the area amid the presence of Chinese vessels.
The Philippine government has already filed a diplomatic protest over the matter and several countries, including the United States and Australia, have expressed concern over the renewed tension in the region.
The lawmaker, meanwhile, also said other Cabinet officials must depict the same stance being shown by Lorenzana against China.
Julian Felipe Reef, called Niu’e Jiao by the Chinese, is a boomerang-shaped feature located 175 nautical miles off Bataraza, Palawan.
For its part, the Chinese Embassy maintained that China had a historical claim over the said reef. (MNS)