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Defense chief denies

China'scare tactics'
By Nat Mariano
THE report that 600 Chinese vessels
had allegedly been circling Pag-asa ls-
land in the West Philippine Sea since
January this year was just an "exagger-
ated claim," an omcial said Sunday.
Defense Secrctaxy Delfin Lorenza-
na said the Westem Command of the
Armed Forces ofthe Philippines "never
said" that hundreds of Chinese vessels
were navigating around the Philippine-
claimed Pag-asa Island.
"That Fepoft] is according to the re-
porter who was there in Puerto Princesa
during rhe RPOC fRegional Peace and
Order Councill meeting," Lorenzana
told the.Manila Standard. Nert page

vessels to sustain China's assertive prcs- raise maritime issues in the disputed wa-
Defense... ence in the vicinity ofthe sandban," Fac- ters with China during his coming visit io
Frcm Al tor told ABS-CBN News. Beijing next month for the 2nd Belt and '

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Road Forum.

He Inade the statement even as an ana- the public should await the inlti*findings Senatorial candidate Gary Alejano crit-
lyst wamed Sunday the Chinese vessels ofa Cabinet cluster about the matter. icized the Duterte administation follow-
that had been circling Pag-asa Island in . "I think we should await the findings of ing the issue, lambasting the govemment
the West Philippine Sea were part of the the cluster to know lhe truth about it and for its alleged failure to act on his wam-
intimidation tactics meanno give Beijing know what are.the recommendations of ings about the presence of Chinese ves-
control ofthe strategic waterway. the Presidenl. Nograles told reporiers in sels neax Pag-asa Island in the contested
The Philippine military on Friday ex- Romblon on Sunday. watefs.
pressed alarm at the presence of some 'We should await the rccommendations "The govemment has been wamed two
600 Chinese vessels near the sandbar. ofthe Presiclenl But ofcoruse, there are dip yeaxs ago, but [the] President and his co-
"They have been a critical part of Chi- lomatic procedures that we need to follow horts only downplayed the incidents. Not
nese intimidation around the Senkaku and we will have to run tlnough the process once did the President take seriously the
Islands in the South China Se4?' said of the Departrnent of For€ignAtrairs." issue of China taking away our territory
retired US Navy captain Carl Schustel Lorenzana said Malacafrang would re- and abusing our fisheimen and soldiers,"
former director of the US ?acific Com- ject the report. Alejano said in a statement.
*As I haVe said before, China will
mand's joint inrclligence c€ntet "lPresidential Spokesman Salvador]
In a repoit by ABS-CBN News, AFP Panelo will conduct a presscon tomorrow continue to assert conhol in the Pag-asa
Wesiem Command chief Elpidio Factor to clari& everything and to debunk this Island sandba$ despite the 'friendly' re-
said "the foreign vessels monitored in exaggerated claim, Loranzana said. lations that the administration is trying to
Pag-asa Island were all Chinese fishing This recent development came follolv: foster," Atejano said
vessels deployed in'the vicinity of the ing a report that a Chinese coast guard ''The sandbars are crilical to China's
sandbar." vessel allegedly harassed Filipino fisher- claim on the Subi Reet If Chita seizes
"These vessels are considered Chinese men in Scarborough Shoal. Sandy Cay, they wilt be able to claim
maritime militia and are occasionally The Palace then expressed the possibil- Subi Reef as part of tbe territorial sea of
complemented by Chinese Coast Guard ity that President Rodrigo Duterte might Sandy Cay.'

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