De Lima: PH to end up as 'China's satellite' in allowing incursions in WPS

Opposition Senator Leila de Lima said Philippines could end up as “another one of China’s satellites” if President Duterte and the military will not stand against the incursion of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).


De Lima hit the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for supposedly backing the Duterte administration's "policy of groveling before China."

"While everyone in the world, including China’s own generals, are warning Xi Jinping that he is overstretching in confronting the US and the Philippines in the WPS, Taiwan in the Straits, and Japan in the East China Sea, all at the same time and without any ally or friend whatsoever (except Duterte), the AFP still thinks it is worth it to continue to support Duterte’s policy of groveling before China," she said in her latest dispatch.

“For some reason, the AFP has completely accepted the story being sold by local pro-China opportunists that the future of the country and the region lies with China as the sun supposedly sets on the American empire in the Pacific,” she added.

The detained senator maintained that China "remains alone in the world", citing that other nations are also sending ships to the South China Sea to send a message that they will not allow its invasion in their territories.

De Lima said Duterte should "rehabiltate" the AFP to better respond to the national security issue.

"Because our country has only one AFP who will defend us against China. Either that, or we start accepting our fate in this region as just another one of China’s satellites after Laos and Cambodia,” she said.

The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) last Tuesday, April 13, reported that at least 240 Chinese vessels were lingering around the Pagkakaisa Banks and Pag-asa Islands, including those remained moored at the Julian Felipe Reef.

Last month, some 220 Chinese vessels were spotted swarming at the Juan Felipe Reef, which is well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf.

In response, the AFP said it will increase its patrols in the WPS to assert the Philippines sovereignty, although admitting the need for more air and naval assets to cover the entire area.

While his defense and foreign secretaries openly condemned the incursions by Chinese militia vessels into the WPS, Duterte kept mum about the issue. His spokesman, Harry Roque, instead invoked that his "diplomatic initiatives" were not covered by the freedom of information.

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former foreign affairs Sec. Albert del Rosario had also raised the concern that the Philippines could become a "subject of China" should it continue to tolerate Beijing's "duplicity and being a bully".