Thursday, July 5, 2012

Palace Exec Cautions China Daily

..Xiao Xin Yi Dian [Be a little careful].

This was Malacañang's response to a report in China Daily allegedly accusing the Philippines of creating tensions anew in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) following President Benigno S. Aquino III's pronouncement that the Philippines might tap the assistance of a US spy plane to monitor its territory.

"Xiao Xin Yi Dian. Be a little careful about your statements," Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing yesterday, noting that President Aquino's statement should not be viewed by China provocatively.

Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) Secretary Ricky Carandang said the use of spy planes is "seriously considered" but stressed that it should not be looked into as a provocative action.

"In context of all other things we're doing I would think that it would be something seriously considered," he said. "This is just monitoring, this is not deployment of forces, this is not positioning, it's simply just being able to watch over what's happening in our territory."

"Nobody feels Coast Watch as provocative, then they should not view this as provocative either. We are merely exercising our sovereign right to monitor and watch over our territory so any sovereign country would do that and I don't think a country will begrudge us for doing that," Carandang explained.

"This is not a provocative action, there is no aggressive intent here but every country has a right to monitor their territory and to do whatever means it feels is necessary," he added.

President Aquino had said the Philippines is mulling on asking the help of the US by sending spy plane US P3C Orion to monitor Philippine territory, noting that the Philippines has limited capability.

Malacañang, meanwhile, said there is no intention to beef up security and put up structures in the Benham Rise, a continental shelf off the coast of Aurora province rich in marine resources.

The Philippines is the only country allowed to catch blue fin tuna in Benham Rise.

Lacierda said it is not a disputed area, noting that there are no Chinese and Taiwanese poachers in Benham Rise.

He said poachers in the said area are apprehended and charged.

"At this point, there are no intention at beefing up security. It is not disputed by the way, it has already been awarded to us so there's no issue to that," Lacierda said.

Meanwhile, retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz said the Panatag Shoal dispute is a critical issue that should be discussed in the upcoming State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA).

"This has to be taken up at the time of SONA so that we will know the score. We cannot set this aside because this is not just a local concern but an issue that is of international level," Cruz said in a forum held on Roxas Boulevard yesterday.

"I hope this will be resolved peacefully so that we will have reasons to celebrate," Cruz said. (With a report from Jenny F. Manongdo)