Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate on Wednesday, April 7 urged the United States and China to “demilitarize” the South China Sea as recent events in the contested maritime waters could heighten the tensions in the region.
Zarate said China’s “saber-rattling” by threatening a “strong response” against the Philippine military and the evidence increase of military presence of western powers such as the April 4 entry of the US Navy’s Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG) could escalate into a serious conflict.
“In this light, we are calling for a complete demilitarization of the South China Sea amid the ramping up of military and naval presence by China, US and other western powers in the disputed maritime region,” Zarate said.
“The recent aggressive and expansionist actions of China is now apparently being taken as a cue by western powers, particularly the US, France, etc., to increase its military and naval presence in the region,” the lawmaker stressed.
“This increasing militarization of the South China Sea, including our West Phillipine Sea, is making this region a potential flashpoint for trouble,” he added.
“We call on these military powers to stand down. We are also calling for the passage now of a code of conduct among all claimant countries,” Zarate appealed.
Zarate likewise said that the Congress should make a collective stand against China’s aggressive actions in the West Philippine Sea.
The solon lamented that the Makabayan bloc has already filed at least five House resolutions that seek to resolve the country’s problems in the WPS.
He said this includes House Resolution (HR) No. 8 which seeks an inquiry into China’s intrusion in Recto Bank; HR 254 on the alleged Chinese companies plan to buy Fuga, Grande and Chiquita islands: HR 835 on the gun-pointing incident of a Chinese warship against BRP Conrado Yap; HR 1169 on the collision between the Chinese vessel M/V Viena Wood and F/V Liberty 5 and the abandonment of 14 fish worker victims, and HR 1675 which pertains to the recent swarming of Chinese maritime militia in the Julian Felipe reef.
“Yet, until now, not one has been heard by the appropriate House committee,” he complained.
“Congress should not stand idly by when there are infringement on our territory and sovereignty,” Zarate said.