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PH to intensify patrols in West PH Sea

MANILA, May 14 ------ The National Security Council (NSC) has directed concerned agencies to intensify patrolling and monitoring of activities in the West Philippine Sea after reports of island-building activity in the Escoda or Sabina Shoal, allegedly by China. "We are alarmed by all of this development, at kaya, the National Task Force West Philippine Sea, led by Secretary Año, has already directed mas maigting na pagbabantay sa lahat ng mga features natin at lahat ng mga features within the West Philippines Sea, within our 200 nautical miles Exclusive Economic Zone kasi wala pong magbabantay diyan kung hindi tayo," NSC Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya said in a public briefing. "It is our responsibility under international law na bantayan at siguruhin na iyong environment diyan ay hindi nasisira at hindi nagkakaroon ng mga reclamation activities," he added.   


The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) recently said that the suspected reclamation activities by China have been "deterred" following the presence of the Philippine Coast Guard in the area in April. For former Supreme Court (SC) associate justice Antonio Carpio,  Escoda Shoal must be monitored by the Philippine government 27/7. "Kailangan bantayan natin iyong Escoda Shoal 24/hours a day. Magpadala tayo ng coast guard to watch over Escoda shoal para mahinto ang maritime militia vessels na magtambak ng dead corals," Carpio told Teleradyo Serbisyo. He added that the Philippines must continue its maritime patrol with foreign troops to avoid what happened in the Mischief reef, which was seized by China in the mid-90s. "We should conduct naval patrol also in that area simply with the Americans and other ally, Asean, Japanese, UK and French. Dapat gawin natin yung tatlo na yun para hindi maisahan tulad ng nangyari sa Mischief Reef," he said. "Kailangan talaga we have to team up with other country to help us sail in the WPS para makita kung anong ginagawa ng Tsina," he added.  


Meanwhile, the NSC also clarified that the government is not involved in the planning of a civilian mission to be undertaken by the "Atin Ito Coalition" on May 14 to 17. The mission will sail to Bajo De Masinloc in Zambales to deliver provisions to the Filipino fishermen in the area. Some foreign nationals from Japan and Sweden are reportedly joining the activity. "Wala pong kinalaman ang pamahalaan, not any one of the government agencies are involved in the planning or organizing of this civilian mission. So, kung nag-imbita sila ng mga dayuhan dito, they are well within the rights to do so. Kami po sa National Security Council, wala kaming objections for them to hold civilian mission because pasok naman sa ating karagatan ang Bajo de Masinloc," Malaya said. "Kaya they are free to do whatever they do dito and sana maging matagumpay iyong pagbibigay nila ng tulong kasi the objective nitong misyon na ito ay tulungan iyong ating mga mangingisda sa parteng iyan ng West Philippine Sea. So, magdadala sila ng mga supply," he added.   


The government will only help in the security and safety of the mission. "Kasi mayroon naman tayong regular na patrol sa West Philippine Sea, sa tingin ko magkakaroon ng oportunidad ang Philippine Coast Guard at ang convoy na ito na magsama at a certain point sa karagatan, so nandiyan po ang ating Philippine Coast Guard para bantayan at siguruhin ang kapakanan ng mga kasama sa Atin Ito civilian convoy," Malaya explained.  


Meanwhile, the NSC is supporting the call of Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro to "expel" people from the Chinese embassy should they proven to be behind the wiretapping of a supposed phone conversation between a Chinese diplomat and a high-raking official of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). "Si National Security Adviser Eduardo Año fully supports this initiative kasi kumbaga narating na iyong sukdulan in terms of diplomatic practice on the part of the responsible officials in the Chinese embassy," Malaya said.   


Recent reports said that there was a two-minute phone conversion between an unnamed Chinese diplomat and AFP Western Command (WESCOM) Commander Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos, discussing an agreement in the conduct of rotation and resupply missions to the Ayungin Shoal. The NSC doubts if the conversation existed, given that in official communication protocols between two countries, it is usually the Philippine Ambassador or a Cabinet member who engages in such conversations. "Tama nga naman na panahon na para we call for the expulsion of these responsible officials kasi they are violating the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Kailangan hindi nakikialam ang mga diplomats; they are guests in our country, kaya nga ‘di sila nakikialam sa mga internal affairs of the country," Malaya said.  



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