Lorenzana supports filing of diplomatic protest over Chinese maritime rescue center in Kagitingan Reef
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana emphasized that the Philippine should protest the establishment of a maritime rescue center by China at Kagitingan Reef in the West Philippine Sea.
Lorenzana noted that although a rescue station in that area, which is also known as Firey Cross, may help Filipino fishermen, he expressed support to the Department of Foreign Affairs' plan to file a diplomatic protest.
“Okay, a lot of things have been said about that rescue station, maritime rescue station, initially I said what’s wrong with the rescue station? Anyway that’s for humanitarian purposes. Maybe they could also help Filipinos who are stranded, or in distress in the sea, maybe by inclement weather,” he said during the question and answer portion of National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP) Alumni Forum in Camp Aguinaldo on Monday.
“But I think I agree with the Secretary of Foreign Affairs that we should protest, only because we don’t want them to be keep on building things there so that it will make it permanent,” he noted.
“We believe that Mischief Reef, Fiery Cross and all those islands that they have built within our EEZ (exclusive economic zone)... and they belong to us,” he added.
Lorenzana said the Philippine government should protest such action that is not consistent with the country’s interest.
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. mentioned that he is waiting for the assessment of National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon before a protest will be filed.
When asked for his assessment and the government’s plan to file a diplomatic protest, Esperon said the “Kagitingan now has two harbors , an airstrip and many buildings, among others,
“Without constructing anything else, it could be the headquarters for rescue operations. Why, it could even be declared by the Chinese as an observatory or a maricultured coral farm site or a drug rehabilitation center or a flying school,” he said.
“Now, which of those need to be verified? Which of the examples would you protest or contest? I think, for simplicity, we simply go back to our original protest, that of protesting the construction or building of an artificial island or move for internationalization of the reef. Say China-Asean Island with equal right,” he added. Robina Asido/DMS