By Gerry Albert Corpuz
MANILA, Philippines- The Philippine alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) protested the coral mining activity undertaken by Chinese fishing vessels three kilometers away from Pag-asa municipal island and demanded the Chinese government to pull out their coral collecting ships near the island municipality.
In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chairperson Fernando Hicap said that such arrogant act of the Chinese government does not only destroy the ecology and biodiversity of West Philippine Sea, it also a wholesale attack on the collective sovereignty and national patrimony of nearly 100 million Filipinos.
“Beijing should pull out all its coral collecting vessels near Panatag Island. It is highly improper for Beijing to assert its claim in West Philippine Sea through sheer display of military might and environmental plunder. This grand showcase of Beijing arrogance won’t help in finding the right resolution to decades old territorial conflict in Spratlys,” Hicap lamented.
Employees of the municipal government of Pag-asa reported on Friday that Chinese fishing vessels continued collecting corals near the island. While they wanted to confront the vessels, local official told them to refrain from acting on the situation, and instead were consoled that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will be doing the job to resolve the case.
The Pamalakaya leader said the arrival of 30 Chinese fishing vessels in West Philippine Sea, twenty of which had moved to within 9 kilometers of the Philippine occupied Pag-asa Island is a provacative measure that will affect efforts to resolve the ongoing conflict in Spratlys. Hicap said Beijing should also listen to the opinion of marine conservation experts that the coral mining by the Chinese fishing vessels off Pag-asa isle would have a serious impact on the important marine ecosystems around the Coral Triangle.
“Beijing should listen to the Filipino people and to other concernend groups. The Chinese leadership action on West Philippine Sea conflict has emboldened the US and the junior partners of Washington D.C like Australia and Japan to intervene in the conflict and this is really serious and dangerous both for the Chinese and Filipino people,” he added.
“Like Beijing, we are also very critical and highly opposed to US military intervention and aggression in the Philippines and in Asia Pacific region. If Beijing will not refrain from doing provocative measures such as ships deployment and coral mining, the puppet government in Manila will exploit the situation to justify US military involvement,” said Pamalakaya.
Yesterday, Pamalakaya opposed the proposal of Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon Jr. urging President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to ask the United Nations to send its peacekeeping forces in the country to prevent a shooting war between the Philippines and China’s military forces in connection with the current dispute.
The militant group said it favored the proposal to officially bring the West Philippine Sea case to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) and explore the ASEAN Code of Conduct on Responsible Fishing and the bilateral talks being offered by Beijing, instead of pursuing US driven mechanisms in dealing with the conflict.
Pamalakaya lamented that China’s actions in dealing with the West Philippine Sea conflict has emboldened the Manila government to allow the United States and other junior partners of Washington D.C in Asia and the Pacific like Japan and Australia to get involve in the ongoing territorial dispute.