Palace asked to summon Beijing’s envoy too over South China Sea ‘militarization’

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 26 2018 04:40 PM

Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua talks to President Rodrigo Duterte at the Malacañan Palace on September 13, 2017. Karl Norman Alonzo, Malacañang Photo

MANILA - Malacañang should summon Beijing’s envoy to Manila over China’s continued militarization of artificial islands and encroachment in the West Philippine Sea, former National Security Adviser Roilo Golez said Monday.

Golez noted that the Palace promptly called US Ambassador Sung Kim last week to explain an intelligence community report supposedly describing President Rodrigo Duterte as a threat to democracy in the region.

The former security chief backed Malacañang’s decision to clarify the report, which cited Duterte’s bloody war on drugs and threat to declare a revolutionary government and place the entire country under martial law.

Golez said the Palace’s move was “supportive of the dignity of the head of state,” who was identified in the US intelligence community’s global threat assessment. 

“But at the same time, the government should also summon the Chinese ambassador because of the miltarization of Mischief Reef, which to my mind, addresses the dignity and security of the state, not just the head of state, but the state itself,” he told a security forum in Manila.

The US Embassy in Manila earlier said information about the Philippines in the intelligence assessment “had been previously reported by media sources.”

Malacañang has been criticized for promptly calling Washington’s attention over the report, while supposedly not doing enough to protest Beijing’s continued installation of military equipment and facilities in the disputed waters.

The report noted that Southeast Asian countries “will struggle to preserve foreign policy autonomy in the face of Chinese economic and diplomatic coercion.”

The Philippine government has been warned over a possible “debt trap” because of huge Chinese loans.

Former military intelligence chief Victor Corpus said the Philippine government should go for a “win-win” solution to the territorial dispute, including joint oil exploration and conservation of marine resources.

Insisting on implementing Manila’s arbitral victory over China, he claimed, “will sure lead us to war.”

“The Philippines will not get a single drop of oil nor a single cubic foot of gas, nor a single fish from the disputed area,” he said in the forum.

The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration rejected the basis of Beijing’s sweeping claims over the South China Sea.

But China rejected the ruling and continued to fortify its artificial islands.