China should stop interfering with South Korea’s plan to donate a warship to the Philippines.
This was the reaction of Valenzuela City Congressman Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian about China’s move requesting for the cancellation of South Korea’s donation of a 1,240-ton Pohang-class missile-guided corvette to the Armed Forces of the Philippines or AFP.
In a statement, Gatchalian noted that the economic giant has no right to meddle on the bilateral affairs between Philippines and South Korea, which plans to give the warship as a small token of appreciation for Filipino aid in the Korean War.
“China is again exercising its bullying powers as it protested South Korea’s plan to donate a second-hand warship to the Philippines. The matter, however, is bilateral. South Korea and the Philippines do not need China’s blessing to hold their affairs,” Gatchalian explained.
Gatchalian, a member of House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said the additional warship would increase Philippine defense capabilities even as China is known to put up blockades and harassed local fishermen in the country’s supposed exclusive economic zone.
“China itself pushes for bilateralism when it comes to agreements and resolving conflicts. It should then respect the bilateral matter between South Korea and the Philippines. China should practice what it preaches in the field of international relations,” he said.
Gatchalian’s statement came in the heels of President Noynoy Aquino’s displeasure over the presence of two new Chinese vessels near the oil-rich Recto Bank or Reed Bank in the West Philippine Sea.
Citing a military report, the President called attention to the presence of the Chinese hydrographic research vessels at Recto Bank despite a Washington-backed Philippine proposal for a freeze on activities that escalate tensions over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
The West Philippine Sea is part of the South China Sea within the Philippines’ 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone or EEZ.
Gatchalian expressed appreciation for South Korea’s generous donation, saying the two countries’ growing defense cooperation is vital in maintaining stability in the region.
At the same time, Gatchalian called on the Aquino government to support local fishermen following reports that China has expanded its maritime patrols around Hasa-Hasa (Half Moon) Shoal to protect its own fishing vessels.
“More than pronouncements saying we uphold sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea, the government through the Philippine Navy should address China’s questionable claim by sending maritime patrols to protect and defend our local fishermen,” he added.
The lawmaker also called on concerned government agencies to step up efforts in apprehending local sellers of sea turtles and other endangered species who take advantage of the maritime conflict. (Monica Cantilero)