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Sunday, December 10, 2023

Changing threat scenario

The importance of jumping on alliances with like-minded countries has been properly articulated by Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr.

He had painted ”the changing threat situation” in the West Philippine Sea, with the military citing rising concerns in the area where recently it reported some three dozen Chinese fishing vessels round three land features alone in the past weeks.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Command said aerial patrols on Sept. 6 and 7 alone showed 23 Chinese fishing vessels in the Rozul (Iroquios) Reef, five in Escoda (Sabina) Shoal and two in Baragatan (Nares) Bank.

The WESCOM is on the right drift when it said the increased presence of Chinese fishing vessels raises concerns regarding the potential implications for Philippine maritime security, fisheries conservation, territorial integrity, and preservation of the marine environment.

We endorse the thought these activities have been a source of tension in the West Philippine Sea and have contributed to instability in the region.

Shortly after Teodoro punctuated his declaration, National Security Council assistant director general Jonathan Malaya said Chinese research vessels are reported to be roaming the eastern side of the Philippine Sea, which is the Philippine Rise or Benham Rise.

Benham Rise is a 13-million-hectare underwater plateau near Aurora province on the southern side of the Sierra Madre Mountains, larger than Luzon, the Philippines’ biggest island, and is considered part of the country’s continental shelf.

According to Malaya, a few years ago, China named some submerged features in the eastern side of the Philippines.

Under the leadership of National Security Adviser Eduardo Año, Malaya said part of the NSC’s strategy is to have a 360-degree archipelagic security for the entire country, not only the West Philippine Sea.

Malaya said the government bought research vessels for the National Academic Research Fleet (NARFleet), led by the UP Marine Science Institute, so Filipino scientists may also study the water resources of the Philippines.

The developments add importance to Teodoro’s statement, following some concern raised in the Senate over the presence of a US Navy aircraft during the recent Filipino resupply mission at Aungin Shoal.

Teodoro was comprehensible when he said the Philippines, given the moves of other countries in the West Philippine Sea, and now in the Philippine Rise, must “leverage our alliances not for anything but to enforce rules-based international order and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.”

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