MANILA, Philippines – Magdalo partylist Representative Gary Alejano disclosed on Tuesday that a Chinese flag has, indeed, been mounted on a steel pipe at a sand cay located seven nautical miles northeast off Kota Island, which he described as a show of incursion on Philippine territory.
In a news conference, Alejano said the flag was discovered around the third week of July this year.
“A Chinese vessel allegedly erected the said 3-meter high Chinese flagpole on a sand cay that is known to be within a Philippine-controlled area,” Alejano said.
“The continuous actions of China in the disputed waters in the West Philippine Sea are very concerning. These recently reported incidents only reveal that Chinese activities in the West Philippine Sea have not stopped in the face of warming relations. Furthermore, this contradicts China’s supposed commitment to peace and stability in the area by maintaining status quo,” Alejano added.
The disclosure came as Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano assured “there are no problems” at Sandy Cay in the West Philippine Sea.
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio earlier reported that China has virtually occupied a new geological feature called Sandy Cay in the West Philippine Sea. He said that China is guarding Sandy Cay, located some 2.5 nautical miles off Pag-asa Island and well within the 12 nautical miles territorial waters.
“Some of the press statements that came out had the wrong facts. Wrong premise, wrong conclusion,” Cayetano told reporters in an interview Tuesday, August 22.
“For example, one of them was saying may invasion of the sandbars sa Pagasa. What does an invasion mean? It means inaagaw mo or tinatayuan ng ibang country. That’s not true. The National Security Adviser, Secretary Esperon, has come out to deny that’s what happened,” he added.
Cayetano said that, despite the “lack of details” that the department divulges publicly, diplomatic actions are being done.
“We find a way to talk to all the claimants firmly but still in a diplomatic manner, kasi naghahanap tayo ng solution. Let me assure you wala nang problema dun sa area na iyon (… because we are working toward a solution. There is no more problem in that area).
“Kung nagkaproblema man (If there was a problem), it was resolved diplomatically but it is not true there was an attempt to invade or agawin (grab),” he said.