Philippines, Japan discuss China's aggression

By Pia Lee-Brago, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 10 2014 02:23 AM | Updated as of May 10 2014 10:23 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines and Japan discussed the challenges they face with China's aggression in disputed waters in the East and South China Seas, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday.

Japan Parliamentary Senior Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Norio Mitsuya recently called on Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario to discuss bilateral, regional and international issues, including the challenges faced by both countries with China’s aggression in disputed waters.

Mitsuya stressed the important partnership between the Philippines and Japan as both countries confront similar challenges in the region while sharing common values of freedom and democracy.

Mitsuya also underscored Japan’s support for the Philippines’ arbitration case, which seeks to find a peaceful resolution to the dispute in the West Philippine Sea, and welcomed the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the Philippines and the United States.

Del Rosario, for his part, expressed his appreciation for Japan’s support for the Philippines’ arbitration case.

He also welcomed the United States-Japan Joint Statement, which was issued during US President Barack Obama’s visit to Japan.

It called on claimant countries in the South China Sea to clarify their claims in accordance with international law, including the use of international arbitration in settling maritime disputes.

Del Rosario also thanked Japan for its continued support for the capacity enhancement of the Philippine Coast Guard.

Del Rosario and Mitsuya agreed to further cooperate in promoting trade and investments between the Philippines and Japan, including exploring ways to resolve issues and improve the business environment and facilitating the deployment of Filipino nurses and caregivers to Japan.

China uses jammers in Ayungin Shoal

Meanwhile, Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian yesterday condemned China’s reported use of jamming equipment in Ayungin Shoal, saying such move threatens the lives of civilians and their right to freedom of movement.

He said the move to use jamming equipment could violate civilians’ right to life, liberty and security, as well as the right to freedom of movement as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“China’s resort to jamming devices imperils the lives of civilians aboard private and commercial planes and ships because it affects the transmission of information crucial for navigation,” he said.

“It also breaches the right of people to travel. China, as a member of the United Nations and more so as a member of the UN Security Council, should learn to respect the rights of people to life, liberty, security and movement as guaranteed by the Declaration,” he added.

Gatchalian pointed out that the use of jamming devices is another form of harassment on Filipino soldiers stationed on a grounded Philippine Navy boat in Ayungin Shoal off Palawan, and on military and civilian vessels resupplying the troops.

China’s jamming of communications was discovered when two Philippine military planes were forced to navigate on their own after their communications equipment went dead while hovering over the disputed area last Saturday.

Gatchalian urged China to agree to the diplomatic approach of settling its territorial dispute with the Philippines.

“This can be resolved without brute force, just like what our country and Indonesia did on overlapping exclusive economic zones. The Philippines’ and Indonesia’s resolve to work on territorial issues through peaceful means clearly illustrates that the diplomatic route is more effective in determining solutions in such conflicts. By using that route, economic, political and social ties are kept intact,” he said.

Recently, a civilian vessel succeeded in resupplying a small Philippine Marine contingent in Ayungin despite being harassed by two Chinese Coast Guard ships.

Before that, the Chinese shooed away small boats bringing supplies to the Marines.

In another disputed shoal off Zambales, Chinese vessels had used water canons on Filipinos trying to fish in the area. – With Jess Diaz