Philippines vows to defend territory against China

The Philippines vowed Thursday to fight China "to the last man standing", as a Chinese warship patrolled around a remote reef occupied by a handful of Filipino marines in disputed waters.

In the latest flare-up over competing claims to parts of the South China Sea, the Philippines this week denounced the "provocative and illegal presence" of the warship and a fleet of Chinese fishing vessels near Second Thomas Shoal.

After China brushed off the protest and insisted it owned the tiny reef and islets that are home to rich fishing grounds, the Philippines on Thursday ramped up the rhetoric against its much more powerful rival.

"To the last soldier standing, we will fight for what is ours," Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin told reporters when asked if the Philippines would bow to Chinese intimidation and pull its forces from the shoal.

However Gazmin said the Philippines was not intending to send any military reinforcements to the area, and there had been no confrontations between the two sides at the shoal since the Chinese vessels arrived early this month.

Second Thomas Shoal is one of nine Filipino-occupied islands or islets in the Spratly Islands chain.

It lies about 200 kilometres (120 miles) northwest of the Philippine island of Palawan, the nearest major landmass, and more than 1,000 kilometres from China's Hainan island.

The shoal is guarded by a handful of Filipino marines, believed to number fewer than 10, aboard a World War II-era ship that was deliberately grounded there in the late 1990s to serve as a base.

China says it has sovereign rights over nearly all of the South China Sea, even waters far away from its main landmass and approaching the coasts of Southeast Asian countries.

The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also claim parts of the sea, and the area has for decades been regarded as a potential trigger for major military conflict in the region.

All claimants, except Brunei, have troops stationed on various islands and atolls in the Spratlys -- the biggest archipelago in the sea -- to assert their claims.

Regional tensions have escalated in recent years as China has taken more aggressive steps to assert its claims to the sea, which is believed to sit atop vast reserves of oil and gas worth billions of dollars.

China has established a new city to oversee the area and deployed navy vessels on wide-ranging patrols of the sea, with its ships reaching as far as 80 kilometres from Malaysia's coast.

China last year also took control of Scarborough Shoal, another bountiful fishing area far closer to the Filipino landmass than China's, after a stand-off between vessels from both countries ended with the Philippines retreating.

Second Thomas Shoal is about 40 kilometres east of Mischief Reef, a Philippine-claimed outcrop that China has occupied since 1995.

Second Thomas Shoal and Mischief Reef are within the Philippines' internationally recognised exclusive economic zone.

"They should not be there. They do not have the right to be there," foreign department spokesman Raul Hernandez told AFP via text message on Thursday when asked the Chinese presence at Second Thomas Shoal.

"No one should doubt the resolve of the Filipino people to defend what is ours in that area."

President Benigno Aquino on Tuesday announced a planned $1.8-billion military upgrade to defend the country's maritime territory against "bullies".

But China's announced defence budget of $115 billion this year is nearly 100 times more than that of the Philippines.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires
    Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires

    Eleven Filipinos are included in Forbes’ 2015 list of richest people in the world. Filipino-Chinese tycoon Henry Sy Sr. continues to be the wealthiest man in the Philippines. The 90-year-old SM supermalls, banking and property tycoon ranked 73rd among the world’s richest with an increased net worth of $14.2 billion from $11.4 billion last year. Sy’s net worth was attributed to the continued growth of his SM Investments Corp. and his more recent venture, the City of Dreams Manila resort and …

  • Jolo apologizes to Bong in visit
    Jolo apologizes to Bong in visit

    Cavite Vice Gov. Jolo Revilla wept and embraced his father as he apologized for the “accidental” shooting incident in their Ayala Alabang residence, the family’s spokesman said yesterday. Lawyer Raymund Fortun came out of the private room at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Muntinlupa City to speak to reporters, who were barred from entering the hospital compound during the visit of Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. …

  • Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media
    Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media

    By Jane Wardell and Beawiharta SYDNEY/DENPASAR, Indonesia (Reuters) - Two convicted Australian drug smugglers were removed from a prison in Bali on Wednesday to be taken to an Indonesian island where they will be shot by firing squad, Australian media reported. The planned executions of Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, have ratcheted up diplomatic tensions amid repeated pleas of mercy for the pair from Australia and thrown a spotlight on Indonesia's increasing use of the death …

  • Another source of SAF execution video identified
    Another source of SAF execution video identified

    The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is still tracing the source of the video showing one of the wounded police commandos being finished off by Muslim rebels during the encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25. A source from the Department of Justice (DOJ) said they have identified two persons who first uploaded the video that went viral over social networking sites. The supposed source of the video was elusive and claimed that somebody just placed it on an external drive. The …

  • US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines
    US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said Wednesday he had found one of Japan's biggest and most famous battleships on a Philippine seabed, some 70 years after American forces sank it during World War II. Excited historians likened the discovery, if verified, to finding the Titanic, as they hailed the American billionaire for his high-tech mission that apparently succeeded after so many failed search attempts by others. Allen posted photos and video online of parts of what he said was the …

  • N. Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills
    N. Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills

    North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea and vowed "merciless" retaliation Monday as the US and South Korea kicked off joint military drills denounced by Pyongyang as recklessly confrontational. The annual exercises always trigger a surge in military tensions and warlike rhetoric on the divided peninsula, and analysts saw the North's missile tests as a prelude to a concerted campaign of sabre-rattling. "If there is a particularly sharp escalation, we could see the …

  • Pacquiao big hit so far in Vegas sports books vs Mayweather

    LAS VEGAS (AP) — Manny Pacquiao has always believed he can do what 47 other fighters before him have failed to do — beat Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the ring. …

  • World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too
    World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too

    TOKYO (AP) — The world's oldest person says 117 years doesn't seem like such a long time. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options