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.

  • Pacmania sweeps Philippines ahead of Mayweather clash
    Pacmania sweeps Philippines ahead of Mayweather clash

    Manny Pacquiao's face is on shirts, dolls and postage stamps, his life story is playing in movie houses and millions are getting ready to party as the Philippine boxing hero's "fight of the century" nears. Pacmania is sweeping the Southeast Asian nation of 100 million people ahead of the May 2 Las Vegas bout against unbeaten Floyd Mayweather to decide who is the best boxer of their generation. Of course, it's the fight of the century," Manila film producer Lucky Blanco told AFP. …

  • Manila 'cute little submissive' of US: China media
    Manila 'cute little submissive' of US: China media

    The Philippines is nothing more than the "cute little submissive" of the United States, a Chinese tabloid with close ties to the ruling Communist Party said on Tuesday, criticising Manila for military exercises with Washington. The English-language editorial came a day after the Philippines launched giant 10-day war games with the US and Australia, partly aimed as a warning shot to Beijing amid competing claims in the South China Sea, home to vital shipping routes. "Of all the countries …

  • Philippines seeks more military aid from US to counter China
    Philippines seeks more military aid from US to counter China

    The Philippines said Tuesday it would soon ask the United States for more military equipment and training to build its defences, as it faces Chinese "aggressiveness" in disputed waters. As hundreds of Filipino and American Marines simulated an amphibious assault to reclaim territory from invaders during annual war games, military chief General Gregorio Catapang told AFP he was drafting a "wish list" for US aid. Catapang said the Philippines would ask for "equipment and training", when Foreign …

  • Philippines accuses China of turning water cannon on its fishing boats

    Filipino activists denounced China's coast guard on Tuesday for turning water cannon on Philippine fishing boats in disputed waters, near where hundreds of Filipino and American Marines landed on a beach in a mock assault.     The presidential palace in Manila said China's coast guard used water cannon on Monday to drive away a group of Filipino fishermen at Scarborough Shoal, damaging some of their wooden boats. Chinese ships rammed a fishing boat in the area a few months back. China in …

  • Ex-Cavite governor gets PCSO top post
    Ex-Cavite governor gets PCSO top post

    After nearly a year, President Aquino finally made good his promise to a long-time ally – former Cavite governor and congressman Erineo Maliksi – to head the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), replacing Margarita Juico who resigned in May 2014. Maliksi must be officially elected by the PCSO board members as their chairman. Prior to his appointment to the PCSO, Maliksi faced graft charges before the Sandiganbayan in connection with the alleged illegal purchase of P2.5 million worth …

  • US, Phl military exercises to focus on sea defense
    US, Phl military exercises to focus on sea defense

    A massive deployment of aircraft, personnel and warships characterizes this year’s Balikatan between the two allies, which war games were launched 30 years ago. Commander Lued Lincuna, Philippine Navy public affairs chief, said the Marine Battalion Landing Team-4 (MBLT-4) will link  up with the US 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force. …

  • P-Noy seeking united Asean stand on China
    P-Noy seeking united Asean stand on China

    With China’s actions threatening to “considerably alter the way of doing business globally,” President Aquino will ask the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to take a united stand against Beijing’s massive reclamation activities and other provocative acts in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea. Aquino will raise the appeal to his ASEAN counterparts when they meet on April 27-28 in Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi in Malaysia. Beijing reacted immediately to the plan, saying the …

  • OIC exec backs BBL, says passage to end extremism
    OIC exec backs BBL, says passage to end extremism

    The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) yesterday backed the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), warning that failure to see the peace process through with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) could open the door to extremism. OIC secretary-general Iyad Bin Amin Madani, who is in the country to rally support for the peace process and the BBL, told reporters at the Senate yesterday that the Philippines should not waste the opportunity to attain lasting peace in Mindanao, especially …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options