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PBBM urged to recall ambassador to Beijing

May 2, 2023 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 210 views

Over Ayungin ‘near-collision’

CAGAYAN de Oro City 2nd District Representative Rufus Rodriguez has urged President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. (PBBM) to recall the country’s ambassador to Beijing as a show of protest and displeasure over the “David vs. Goliath” near-collision of a Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) patrol with a Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) vessel.

“Aside from the usual filing of a diplomatic note, we should order our principal representative in China to return home. He should not go back to Beijing until we receive a response from the Chinese government apologizing for their harassment and bullying tactics in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) and committing to rectify their misconduct,” Rodriguez said.

The country’s ambassador to Beijing is Jaime Flor Cruz, a former journalist who covered China for many years for American news organizations.

Rodriguez said the Philippines has filed hundreds of protest notes with Beijing over China’s aggressive and “bullying” activities.

In 2022 alone, 193 protest notes were served on Beijing, including 65 by the Marcos administration, he said.

“All these protestations fell on deaf ears. That is why they continue to harass and bully our Coast Guard patrols and our fishermen, from the northern part of our country in Pangasinan and Zambales to the south in Palawan,” Rodriguez added.

The Mindanao lawmaker also lauded the reaction of the United States to the recent near-collision incident, which happened in the Ayungin Shoal area, where a small contingent of Filipino soldiers is stationed in an old, rusting Navy ship.

“We welcome the unequivocal, clear commitment by the US government. The reiteration of US obligations under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty is very reassuring,” he said.

In the latest incident, a CCG vessel cut off PCG’s BRP Malapascua, which is patrolling near Ayungin Shoal together with BRP Malabrigo.

Filipino and foreign journalists, including those from the news agency Agence France Presse (AFP) on board Malabrigo, witnessed the near-collision.

“We would have collided on the bow had I not cut the engine and thrown it in reverse,” Malapascua commanding officer Rodel Hernandez was quoted as telling the journalists.

He described the encounter as one between “David and Goliath.” The CCG vessel is more than twice the size of the 144-foot Malapascua.

The Philippine government has denounced the Chinese Coast Guard’s provocative actions. Beijing has tossed the accusation to the Philippine Coast Guard.

Rodriguez said Beijing insulted the Filipinos’ intelligence by blaming the near-collision on the PCG personnel.

“It’s unthinkable for a tiny craft like BRP Malapascua to provoke a huge ship like a Chinese Coast Guard patrol vessel. It defies logic,” he said.

He said the Chinese Coast Guard routinely harassed and bullied PCG ships and small boats resupplying Filipino soldiers stationed in Ayungin Shoal off Palawan.

“They do the same with our fishermen in Scarborough Shoal near Zambales and Pangasinan,” he added.