Akbayan Party-list slammed Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano for toeing China’s false claims that reclamation has ceased in the West Philippine Sea.
The statement is in response to photos from Washington think-tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) showing that China’s reclamation activities in the disputed West Philippine Sea still continued beyond 2015, debunking the claims of Cayetano and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
The latest report dated August 5, 2017 show that China continues to reclaim land farther north of the South China Sea in the Paracel islands.
“With these latest reports showing China’s continuing expansion, Cayetano is caught, pants down, on his false claims submitting to China’s position,” Akbayan Party President Machris Cabreros said.
Earlier, Cayetano wanted a ‘weaker’ ASEAN communique without the call-out against China’s militarization and reclamation. Cayetano defended Beijing’s position that the call-out is obsolete, claiming that the reclamation activities stopped in 2015.
While the final joint communique decried militarization in the region, it failed to mention China. It also failed to invoke the Hague ruling won by the Philippines in 2016 and establish a legally-binding code of conduct on the South China Sea.
“Cayetano, as presider of the Asean meeting is unable to lead the member-states in defending their sovereign rights against China’s bullying,” Cabreros added. “Furthermore, Cayetano’s statements do not reflect the sentiments of the Filipino people especially when China is still not held accountable for harassing fishermen in Philippine seas.”
In 2016, a United Nations arbitration tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines against China’s expansion over the West Philippine Sea. On Monday, the United States, Australia and Japan in a trilateral dialogue, rebuked the Philippines and China for turning its back on the ruling.
Akbayan challenged the Duterte government that forging an independent foreign policy requires that it stands up against China.
“The Philippines, as this year’s chair of the regional bloc, should lead Asean members in defending their sovereignty now that negotiations for the Code of Conduct with China is starting soon."###