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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

‘PHL can enlist other nations vs China’s new coast guard law’

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SENATOR Francis Tolentino suggested Sunday that the Duterte administration enlist support of other countries to join the Philippines in taking a common stand protesting China’s recent passage of a new Coast Guard law that heightens the risk of armed confrontation in the West Philippine Sea.

Besides backing the filing of a diplomatic protest last week by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr.,  Tolentino added that “all affected nations can hold an informal meeting and “agree to file the Joint Resolution affirming a common stand among Asean” that the Philippines can initiate.

In a radio interview on Sunday, he added that even as foreign ministers in the regional bloc consult on their next moves, President Duterte could also “talk with his China counterpart.”

In a privilege speech last week, Tolentino reminded his peers that the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China recently passed a law, called the Coast Guard Law of the People’s Republic of China, taking effect on Monday.

“The law, for the first time explicitly allows its coast guard, under certain circumstances, to fire on foreign vessels, fishing boats, coast guard boats, naval boats, or any peace-seeking NGO boats to defend China’s maritime rights and interests,” Tolentino said.

He noted that ‘”this law will take effect on February 1, six (6) days from now.”

In his speech at the Senate, Tolentino said he was compelled to bring up the issue in plenary “because a lot of our fishermen are out there. Some of our fishermen, including those from Zambales, Mindoro, Palawan, Batangas, and Cavite, will go fishing not knowing the existence of this newly passed law by the National People’s Congress of China, allowing its coast guard to take, and I quote, ‘all necessary measures including the use of weapons when national sovereignty rights and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed upon by foreign organizations or individuals at sea.’”

On Sunday, Tolentino warned the fishermen from these areas to be extra vigilant as they set out to sea, and avoid any encounters with Chinese elements. He said relevant Philippine authorities should also step up their monitoring to ensure no Philippine boat or fisherman is left alone to fend for himself.

In his speech last week, the senator warned that China’s law is “very specific,” noting that “it specifies the circumstances under which the different kinds of weapons  handheld [I’m referring to pistols or rifles], shipborne missiles, or airborne coming from planes—can be used.”

Moreover, Tolentino said, “the law as passed allows the Chinese coast guard personnel to demolish other countries’ structures built on Chinese-claimed reefs and to board and inspect vessels in waters claimed by China.” Airing his concerns in open session, Tolentino said: “ . . . The law further provides that the Chinese coast guard is empowered to set up temporary exclusion zones. These are lockdown zones as needed to stop other vessels and personnel from entering.

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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