The online news portal of TV5
No one from the military has been authorized to talk about the dispute regarding Scarborough Shoal, an area being claimed by both the Philippines and China.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Jessie Dellosa made these remarks on Sunday after pesistent leaks—supposedly from senior military officials—indicated that the maritime standoff between Filipino and Chinese vessels in the area has remained unabated.
“Actually, the authorized one to speak regarding Panatag Shoal is out Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and let’s give this one to our Secretary of Foreign Affairs,” Dellosa said.
More than a week ago, the DFA broke the news that Philippine and Chinese vessels have already pulled out of the area.
However, reliable military sources contradicted the announcement, saying that the pullout never took place, save for three Chinese maritime surveillance ships that left on Friday. But on Sunday, two of the three ships returned to the shoal.
“As of 8 a.m. Sunday, there are three Chinese Fisheries Law Enforcement Command ships and six maritime surveillance vessels and more than 30 fishing boats in and outside the shoal while the two ships from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources also remained in the area,” a senior military officer said.
While the Armed Forces continue to seek a peaceful settlement to the row, it is nevertheless committed to fulfill its mandate to protect the country’s maritime domain.
“We will not give up the area and as much as possible we have to resolve this on a peaceful means, in a very diplomatic means, and that’s what we want here,” he said.
No Filipino fishermen is currently reported to be at the shoal although there are more than 30 Chinese fishing boats in the area.
Meanwhile, Dellosa said the military welcomed the commitment of President Barrack Obama to Pres. Benigno Aquino III for the military to have a “credible defense force” under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty of the two countries.
“Actually, when Gen. Martin Dempsey was here we talked about that in our bilateral talk…in terms of cooperation how the United States will help us, to make our military strong,” he said, without hinting at the kind of military equipment the US will give to the AFP.
Dellosa, however, said the AFP is are looking forward with the US Armed Forces for more joint military exercises. InterAksyon.com