China’s attempt to reclaim Scarborough a ‘redline’; PH shall not allow it

Published September 26, 2019, 5:17 PM

by CJ Juntereal

By Roy Mabasa

China’s possible attempt to reclaim the Scarborough Shoal within the next three years will constitute a “red line” and will not be allowed by the Philippines, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Wednesday night.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY OF NATIONAL DEFENSE / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Ah, that’s already a redline. The President (Duterte) said it’s a red line. We’re not allowing them to. That’s what the President said. According to the President, if they build there that’s a red line,” Lorenzana told journalists during a reception at the residence of Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda in Makati City.

Lorenzana was apparently reacting to an earlier statement made by Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio that China needs to reclaim the Scarborough Shoal before President Duterte’s term ends in three years and even before Beijing signs the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

Lorenzana expressed confidence that Xi will not resort to such drastic action, noting the verbal agreement made between Duterte and the Chinese leader.

“We trust him (Xi). All we can do is to trust him. What would you get if you don’t trust him?” he added.

The defense chief believes that China will not jeopardize whatever was
agreed upon with regards to the Scarborough, which Beijing tried to
occupy in 2016 but was prevailed upon by then United States President
Barack Obama.

On Wednesday, Justice Carpio said China may reclaim Scarborough at the time when it is ready to sign the COC with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) where some of its members, including the Philippines, have competing claims in the highly-volatile South
China Sea.

“We all know they have a plan and they may do that before the end of the term of President Duterte because that is the time they will also sign COC after they finished the reclamation. They will say, ‘let’s sign the COC. Nobody builds anything anymore. ‘Everything will freeze
and that would legitimize what they’ve created: the artificial islands,” Carpio said during his presentation at the media seminar sponsored by the United States Embassy in Manila.

 
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