DAVAO CITY, Philippines — A progressive partylist group scored what it describes China’s militarist action after it installed weapons on the disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea.
“This is highly deplorable as it further militarizes an already militarized maritime zone. It raises the stakes for a potential regional dispute as U.S. President-elect Donald Trump claimed he is ready to confront Beijing on territorial issues,” Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said in a statement on Friday, Dec. 16.
On Wednesday, the Washington’s Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative has released satellite images which appeared that China has installed anti-aircraft guns and close-in weapons systems at the man-made islands in disputed Spratly’s where other countries including the Philippines have all territorial claims.
“These gun and probable CIWS emplacements show that Beijing is serious about defence of its artificial islands in case of an armed contingency in the South China Sea,” news reports quoted the AMTI as saying.
“Among other things, they would be the last line of defence against cruise missiles launched by the United States or others against these soon-to-be-operational air bases,” it added.
The reports added that China’s Defense Ministry has issued a statement saying the installations were lawful. “If others are flexing their military muscles at your doorstep, are you not even supposed to have a slingshot in hand just in case?”
Zarate said China’s recent development in the disputed islands has watered down its commitment to not militarize the area and should be stopped before the situation escalates.
“There should be a stop to these militarist activities both from China and the US because it would be very disadvantageous to the region and its people if this situation escalates,” he said.
The militant solon has called on the international community to step in and pressure China to de-escalate the situation in the West Philippine Sea and stop militarizing the area.
“China has already reclaimed and installed weapon systems to our reefs such as the Panganiban (Mischief), Mabini (Johnson South), Gavin (Gaven), Calderon (Cuarteron), Hughes (Kennan), Malvar (Eldad) and Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reefs and this should be stopped,” he added.
He also urged the administration of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte “to initiate further diplomatic moves to strengthen our own claims and fortify our positions, even as we engage China in mutually beneficial bilateral or multilateral talks.”
“Every Filipino here or abroad should defend our territory, our exclusive economic zones, our national sovereignty,” he said. (davaotoday.com)