Alarmed by the "seeming cluelessness" of Palace officials on the participation of a red-flagged Chinese contractor in the consortium that bagged the Sangley International Airport project, a local think tank warned Thursday the country may again be caught flat-footed "that Sangley Point in Cavite is already a 'province of China.'"
Pinoy Aksyon for Governance and the Environment (Pinoy Aksyon) also warned against any plans to displace the Philippine Navy facilities at Sangley Point, saying these are vital security installations guarding the national capital and the whole archipelago.
"Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea is impossible," said Pinoy Aksyon, in reaction to the admission by the "primus inter-pares" in the Cabinet that he was "not aware" that a Chinese company is part of the consortium that bagged the contract to build the Sangley airport The same company, China Communications and Construction Co. Ltd.
(CCCC), has been blacklisted by the United States for its involvement in reclamation projects for China in islands in the West Philippine Sea.
Medialdea made the admission during the House of Representatives hearing on the P8.2-billion budget of the Office of the President for 2021.
"Something is amiss in the Palace -- the seat of government – when members of the Cabinet sing different tunes," said Pinoy Aksyon convenor BenCyrus Ellorin in a statement.
He noted that no less than Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. was the one who raised the red flag against CCCC, which is part of the consortium that bagged the Sangley airport project.
"Is this washing of hands, plain cluelessness or what? Either way it does bode well for the country, as it strikes a serious question on who really is calling the shots now. We need answers," Ellorin added.
Meanwhile, Pinoy Aksyon supported calls from the Philippine Navy brass and some members of Congress to retain the naval stations at Sangley Point.
Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo, the Navy's flag officer in command, expressed alarm that the CCCC is not just a mere construction firm, as it "plays a role" in the militarization of the South China Sea and incursions into the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone at the West Philippine Sea.
"All the more we want to remain there to ensure that there are no security violations," Bacordo said in an interview last week.
At Congress, House Resolution 1199 is the Defense Department's bid to stop the relocation and ensure that Naval Stations Heracleo Alano and Pascual Ledesma remain at their locations in Sangley Point, even as the P500-million international airport project is underway.
"The Sangley Point Naval Base is where the headquarters of the Philippine Fleet, the headquarters of the Naval Installation Command, and other vital facilities and offices of the Philppine Navy are located," said the resolution introduced by Cagayan de Oro 2nd
District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.
"Maybe it is high time the government show courage and patriotism in defending our sovereignty and territorial integrity," Pinoy Aksyon said.
These developments, added Ellorin, only highlight the "very alarming slide of the country into a weak state."
"Weak external security amid threats from state and non-state actors, economic decline, serious graft and corruption issues and mounting poverty are unhealthy signs for our state," he said.
"For the country to rebound, government leadership needs to shape up and show the way not later but now, as the bottom line of these 'throw-away policy' is bad governance and when things turn for the worse, the people suffer more, as the fibers that weave the fabric of public accountability and people participation is broken," Ellorin said.