A SENATOR on Wednesday urged the government of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. to bar China from funding reclamation projects in the Philippines
The President on Monday said majority of reclamation projects in Manila Bay have been suspended, except for one that he did not identify.
“I welcome the President’s suspension, but the government should not approve reclamation projects by China state-owned companies anymore,” Senator Ana Theresia “Risa” Hontiveros-Baraquel said in a statement.
The Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) said two of the six approved reclamation projects in Manila Bay belong to China Harbour Engineering Co. Ltd., a unit of state-owned China Communications Construction Co. (CCCC).
“CCCC, like its home country China, has committed many violations against the Philippines,” Ms. Hontiveros said. “From building artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea to now reclaiming land in Metro Manila, China is destroying Philippine territory left, right and center. How can we negotiate with Beijing when she acts in bad faith?”
The opposition senator said the Philippine should ban CCCC after China’s Coast Guard blocked and fired a water cannon at Philippine vessels on a resupply mission at Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea.
“We must draw up other diplomatic and political ways to stand our ground, including stopping China-funded projects on our shores,” she said.
The Philippine Coast Guard vessels were escorting supply boats charted by the Philippine Navy to deliver food and other supplies to Filipino troops stationed at Second Thomas Shoal, also known as Ayungin, a submerged reef where a handful of its troops live on a rusty World War II-era US ship that was intentionally grounded in 1999.
The Chinese Coast Guard’s “dangerous maneuvers” prevented a second boat from unloading the supplies and completing the mission for BRP Sierra Madre, the grounded warship, the Philippine military said.
“BRP Sierra Madre is a Philippine asset that we have all the right to maintain in Ayungin Shoal,” Ms. Hontiveros said. “We will never allow anyone to forcibly take that vessel out of our own waters.”
The senator added that she would support the Philippine Navy and Armed Forces if they propose to reinforce and refurbish the grounded ship.
“We must reinforce [what symbolizes our] very presence at Ayungin Shoal, which is part of our exclusive economic zone,” she said in Filipino.
Ms. Hontiveros said it could be included in the Department of National Defense’s budget for next year. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz