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Thursday, June 13, 2024

DND, NSC to China: No more lies

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Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr., in a statement, called the alleged “new model” a “devious machination of China,” telling Beijing, “This charade must stop.”

In a statement, the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines said that the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Command agreed to a “new model” on the management of disputes over the waters, which was also supposedly approved by key Philippine officials, belonging to the Department of National Defense (DND) and the National Security Council (NSC).

China made the statement after the Philippines already denied the existence of any deal that would compromise the country’s rights over the West Philippine Sea.

The embassy stressed that all “communication and negotiation on this subject matter is kept on record in every detail by the Chinese side.”

“The above are facts, not narratives or inventions,” the embassy said.

Teodoro, however, reiterated that “I have disallowed any contact between the DND and the Chinese Embassy since the courtesy call of Ambassador Huang Xilian, a few days after I assumed office in July of last year,” Teodoro said.

“During the said courtesy call, there was no discussion or briefing on any ‘gentleman’s agreement’ or ‘new model,’ which is contrary to the Chinese Embassy’s pronouncements,” he said.

Teodoro noted that the Chinese Embassy’s statement came after the latest show of aggression by China in the West Philippine Sea were condemned by the recent SQUAD meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii.

“I am issuing this statement to generate awareness on this clear attempt by China to advance another falsehood in order to divide our people and distract us from their unlawful presence and actions in our EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone),” Teodoro said.

“We advise our citizens, the media, and the international community to beware of China’s methods of manipulation, interference, and malign influence in furthering its own interests,” he said.

Meanwhile, the National Security Adviser Eduardo M. Año said the Chinese Embassy’s claims of a “new model” were “absolutely absurd, ludicrous, and preposterous.”

“No one in the Philippine government is, nor have been, empowered nor authorized to enter into or commit to any sort of agreement, understanding, or arrangement – more so informal ones, by our President,” Año said in a statement.

“The Chinese Embassy needs to be reminded that you can never deceive the Filipino people with your fabricated stories, bluffs, and fake exchanges of communication just to support your illegal claim of Philippine territory as well as to justify your illegal, coercive, aggressive and deceptive actions particularly the use of military-grade lasers, water cannons, dangerous blocking maneuvers, and ramming of our vessels which has caused wounded casualties on our side,” he added.

Año also questioned the timing of China’s statement, which came after it was revealed that the cays of the Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea are now in “degraded states” due to apparent island-building activities.

“This is the bigger story that they want to dislodge from the headlines and deflect attention from. It has truly reached a new low of pathetic desperation,” said Año.

“Given that this entire ‘arrangement story’ is clearly fake news and disinformation, this will be the last time I will ever comment on this issue,” he added.

Despite denial by the Philippines, the Chinese Embassy insisted to what it claimed to be deals that were agreed to by the Philippine side.

First was an agreement that was made in 2016 during the Duterte administration.

The Chinese embassy claimed that the Philippines agreed not to deploy any of its vessels or aircraft beyond 12 nautical miles or its corresponding airspace of Scarborough and would limit the fishing area of Filipino fishers.

In its latest statement, the embassy claimed that the AFP Wescom, the DND and the NSC had agreed to the “new model”.

“Thanks to the ‘new model,’ frontliners of both sides had guidance to follow on how to interact with each other, which made the resupply mission on last February 2 a smooth one,” it said.

The embassy also said that even the AFP spokesperson described, in a post on X, one of the resupply missions as “flawless,” supposedly after the implementation of the new model.

“In fact, on 5th of July 2023, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines [Huang Xilian] had the honor to pay a courtesy call on Defense Secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro Jr. at Camp Aguinaldo, exchanged views with the latter on China-Philippines military relations, and maritime issues, among other things,” it said.

“During the meeting, the Philippine side was briefed on the ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ on the management of Renai Jiao. Readouts of the meeting were released respectively by the DND and the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines,” it added.

The Chinese embassy was prompted to pose this question: “Why does the Philippine administration keep denying and resisting the understandings and arrangements?”

The embassy statement said that the Philippines is “wracking our brains” because of the “more and more questions” that it is having.

On an earlier note, however, the DFA, the DND and the NSC have already warned of the misinformation being spread by China supposedly to sow discord among Filipinos.


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