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TURNING POINT: Nipping at the Bud

NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews / 26 May) — Chinese harassment and aggression have worsened.

They are now lording over West Philippine Sea. Earlier, militia men would board Filipino fishing boats and confiscate their catch, justifying that this were taken from China’s sovereign waters. Recently, Chinese coast guard vessels have driven Pinoy fishers away from Bajo de Masinloc using powerful water cannons which in occasions damage their fishing boats.

Bajo de Masinloc is within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), some 198 km west of Subic, Zambales. It has been the traditional fishing ground of fishers in the area since time immemorial.

Of late, the Chinese has warned that effective June 2024, Chinese Coast Guard will arrest and detain for 60 days any trespasser of South China Sea.

The declaration is controversial and an ambitious herculean task to tackle. A big chunk of South China Sea is an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Philippines. It covers 2,263,816 square kilometers (874,064 square miles) of sea. As such,   thousands of Filipinos may be found in the area fishing or pursuing other trades at any given time. Moreover, South China Sea is an international shipping lane. Such that not only Filipino fishers face arrest and detention but also crews of foreign vessels.

The threat is actually to wave away anyone from Bajo Masinloc and nearby so the Chinese can start what they intend to do, which, apparently, is to build another island bunker in Philippine waters as evidenced by the presence of  pipes and a dredger in the area, basic elements in the reclamation and construction of artificial islands.

Allowing them to finish constructing another bunker in our territorial waters will further undermine our national security and sovereignty.

It should be nipped at the bud.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental.)

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