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Miriam: Chinese not likely to attack PHL over Panatag row

China will not likely use its military might against the Philippines despite its recent warnings over the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal issue, Senator Miriam Santiago said.

In an interview over radio dzBB on Sunday, Santiago said the chances of China using its military weapons to attack the Philippines are slim because “that would be completely silly and the Chinese are more intelligent than that.”

Santiago said China may just be trying to make the Philippines "retreat" on the issue as it is aware that an actual attack against Filipinos may trigger an international backlash.

“It will be condemned by the entire world lalo ang European Union dahil masyadong maselan," Santiago said.

"In the United Nations charter alone, violence is already condemned. There is the International Criminal Court, nakalagay na isang malaking krimen ang genocide, ipapatay mo lahat na tao sa ibang bansa o war crimes or crimes against humanity,” Santiago said.

Last Friday, an article posted on the Chinese government portal said China’s armed forces vowed to “fulfill their duty” to safeguard China’s territory in the South China Sea, called by the Philippines as the West Philippine Sea.

“China’s military forces will collaborate closely with related governing bodies, including fishery administration and maritime law enforcement, to jointly ensure the country’s maritime rights and interests,” Chinese defense ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said in Beijing.

The Philippine-China standoff started earlier this April when Philippine military forces spotted Chinese fishing boats off Panatag Shoal.

However, before a Philippine Navy ship could move in to make arrests, two Chinese vessels blocked its path.

China claimed that the Philippine ship harassed the fishing vessels, adding that the area, which they called Huangyan Island, is Chinese territory.

Palace: PHL to continue documenting ‘bullying’

In Malacañang, meanwhile, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the Philippine government will continue to document China’s alleged acts of “bullying” in the area.

“We are documenting the various actions taken by the Chinese vessels. This is (in) order to make sure we are able to determine with sufficient evidence the actions taken by Chinese vessels if we need to bring this up to international tribunals or third parties ... so there will be no conflict on evidence,” he said on government-run dzRB radio.

He said the Department of Foreign Affairs and Philippine Coast Guard are going to document all the actions taken by the Chinese vessels.

Increasing presence

Lacierda said the government remains hopeful it can continue dialoguing with its Chinese counterparts.

However, he also said the government is still discussing the possibility of increasing Philippine presence at the area.

“It is important we maintain our presence ... As to whether we will augment our presence there, (it) is still being discussed,” he said.

He said the Palace will defer the matter to the DFA and the Philippine Coast Guard.
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GMA News Online | April 30, 2012 | Article Link

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