MANILA — Rival superpowers US and China seem to be having "proxy war" in the Philippines, former National Security Adviser Clarita Carlos said Wednesday.
She made the remark following Beijing's use of military-grade laser light against a Philippine Coast Guard vessel in the West Philippine Sea last week, which Washington criticized as "provocative and unsafe."
"Why are they doing this? Is this part of their optical distractors? But are they escalating it? Naghihintay ba sila ng America na mag-respond to that? Nag-gigirian ba kayo?" the political science professor told ANC's "Headstart".
"But the bad part about that, 'yung proxy wars ng 2 countries na'to, nitong 2 hegemons na'to — US and China — abay parang dito nila sa teritoryo natin gagawin.
"Please, 'Gusto niyo maggiyera?' Sa teritoryo niyo gawin, huwag dito sa'min," she added.
In light of the laser incident, Carlos the Philippines should shift gears to change China's behavior.
"My position is that you can't keep on expecting a different result and doing the same thing. There's a name for that. It's called katangahan," she said.
Carlos proposed that Manila lower the level of diplomatic relations with Beijing.
"Sumusobra na sila. Sobrang abuso na nila... What is China doing? It's pushing us to the arms of Americans," she said.
Carlos also wants the Philippines to undertake joint patrols with other countries, apart from the US.
Manila should also pursue multi-alignment with other nations, she said.
"We don't want one hegemon... Ang dami namang centers of power ngayon... Hindi puwede tayong nagswi-swing ng pendulum to China, US," Carlos added.
The laser incident happened on February 6 nearly 20 kilometers from Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal in the Spratly Islands, where Philippine marines are stationed in a derelict navy ship grounded to assert Manila's territorial claim in the waters.
The BRP Malapascua was supporting a "rotation and resupply mission" for the marines when the Chinese vessel pointed the laser light at them twice, the Philippine Coast Guard said Monday.
The Chinese boat also issued illegal radio challenges and undertook dangerous maneuvers, which "constituted a threat to Philippine sovereignty and security as a state," the Department of Foreign Affairs also said.
It is the latest in a series of maritime incidents between the Philippines and China, which claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea and has ignored an international court ruling that its claims have no legal basis.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin insisted Tuesday that the Chinese Coast Guard personnel had "operated with professionalism and restraint".
Days before the latest incident, Washington and Manila agreed to resume joint patrols in the sea, and struck a deal to give US troops access to another 4 military bases in the Philippines.
— With a report from Agence France-Presse