Thursday, June 16, 2011

Navy removes China marker, invokes 'active defense'

GMA news, Thursday, June 16, 2011

After dismantling a China marker at a disputed reef in the West Philippine Seas, the Philippine Navy on Thursday vowed to maintain its "active defense" in the area to prevent other parties from placing another marker there.

Navy flag officer-in-command Rear Admiral Alexander Pama said they have a mandate to protect the Philippines’ 200-nautical-mile (370 km) exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

On Wednesday, the military said it removed a marker found at the Boxall Reef, which is about 125 nautical miles from Palawan's western shoreline.

“Tuluy-tuloy sa pag-iikot at pagpapatrolya ang Navy, kasama ang Philippine Coast Guard... I-emphasize natin ito sa loob ng ating exclusive economic zone. Base sa mandato namin ating pinapangalagaan ang lugar na sinasabi na atin at alinsunod doon sa EEZ natin," he said in an interview on dzBB radio.

He also noted Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Oban Jr. had ordered a policy of “active defense" where the Philippines will not trigger tension while defending its territory.

Pama said this means that while the Philippines will not start any conflict, neither will it run away if it is “attacked."

“We strictly follow the Chief of Staff's guideline na active defense lang. Importanteng bagay na hindi tayo mag-uumpisa pero karapatan ng lahat ng tao yan, self-defense. Pag tayo pinutukan, hindi pwedeng manonood lang o tumakbo," he said.

For now, he said the military’s Western Command will continue to have Air Force and Navy assets there maintain their vigilance against attempts to put back the markers.

The Philippines is disputing the Spratly Islands with China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

Recently, the Philippines had exchanged strong words with China following recent encounters between Philippine and Chinese forces in the area.

Pama said the markers they dismantled consisted basically of a steel bar with graduated markings.

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