RETIRED Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide Jr. on Thursday said the Philippines’ becoming a province of China “may not be too far.”
“Last February 19, before Chinese businessmen, the President mentioned the Philippines as a province of China. Malacañang Spokesperson Harry (L.) Roque explained it was a joke, but knowing China, it will not consider it as a joke,” Mr. Davide said at a forum at the Ateneo where a Mass for solidarity was held in behalf of ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno.
“Only this morning, we had the President saying that China will defend him against any potential ouster,” Mr. Davide said, as he also cited the planned joint oil and gas exploration in the disputed South China Sea and the recent Chinese deployments in the Spratlys.
Mr. Davide also cited “Chinese explorers… in our Benham Rise (Philippine Rise), where they’ve given Chinese names to features of our rise.”
For his part, Palace Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. said the Philippine government has already expressed its protest against the People’s Republic of China on the disputed South China Sea at a meeting by the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism (BCM).
“Ang pagkakaalam ko po, sinabi sa akin mismo ni Secretary [Alan Peter S.] Cayetano, hindi lang sila nagprotesta pero iyong Bilateral [Consultation] Mechanism nila kung saan pinag-uusapan iyong problema sa South China Sea ay pinag-usapan daw iyong paggagawa nga ng mga armas at ng airport at ng mga eroplano doon mismo sa mga isla na iyan, pinag-usapan po daw iyan sa bilateral meeting,” Mr. Roque said in a press briefing Thursday. (What I know is that (Foreign Affairs) Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano told me that not only did they protest, but they also raised this matter at the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism (BCM) where the problem of the South China Sea was discussed….)
He added that the Philippines had a “frank, candid, and frontal discussion on the issue” with China.
“Mas matindi pa nga po, hindi lang protesta yun. Pinarating nila ang ating saloobin na nababahala tayo,” Mr. Roque added. (It was even more direct. It was not only a protest, but we also expressed our concern [about China’s actions].)
Last month, Mr. Roque said the DFA was considering filing a diplomatic protest with China.
The spokesman made his remarks after receiving information that there were two Chinese military transport planes that landed on Panganiban Reef, also known as the Mischief Reef in the east of the Spratly Islands. — Charmaine A. Tadalan and Arjay L. Balinbin