Skip to main content

Philippine Lawmaker Digging Up New Intelligence on Pressure From China

https://www.voanews.com/a/philippine-lawmakers-digging-up-new-intelligence-on-china-pressure/4065407.html


October 11, 2017 8:15 AM

Ralph Jennings

FILE - Rep. Gary Alejano gestures as he tries to defend the impeachment complaint he filed against Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during a Justice Committee hearing at the House of Representatives in metropolitan Manila, Philippines, May 15, 2017.

Share

See comments

TAIPEI, TAIWAN — 

A Philippine opposition party legislator has been drawing attention for the release of privileged information that suggests China is infringing on offshore islets that the two countries dispute, a potential threat to a recently strengthened diplomatic relationship.

But some people reading his feed suspect personal political motives, including an effort to weaken President Duterte.

Congressman Gary Alejano is using social media to spread intelligence gathered on Chinese activity in the South China Sea. The former marine captain elected in 2013 charged China had planted its flag on a sandbar in Philippine-controlled waters in late July and in mid-September chased a Philippine patrol vessel away from three sandbars in the same waters.

Showing the public

Alejano is giving out this information on Facebook and Twitter to remind Filipinos to be careful of their friendship with China forged under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte over the past year.

“This administration and even the government in China are saying that everything is already OK now that we’re talking with each other,” the congressman told VOA in a phone interview.

FILE - Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte prior to their bilateral meeting during the Belt and Road Forum, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, May 15, 2017.

“There are so many things happening in the West Philippine Sea [South China Sea] that are not coming out in the open, and I don’t want that the government would just be silent and do nothing," he said.

Duterte and his foreign affairs secretary acknowledged the report of a Chinese flag at Sandy Cay but said China had not occupied it.

The cay is within 22 kilometers of Philippine-held Thitu Island, part of the Spratly archipelago. The roughly 100 Spratly features belong to the bigger South China Sea.

After Alejano’s claims about the chased patrol boat, the defense secretary told Philippine media it was “natural” that China would be spotted in the Spratlys.

Beijing claims more than 90 percent of the sea extending from its south coast to Borneo. It has alarmed four rival claimants in Southeast Asia by letting coast guard vessels operate in disputed waters and by building artificial islands, some for possible deployments of radar systems and combat aircraft.

Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam as well as the Philippines contest many of China's maritime claims.

South China Sea Territorial Claims

“This is something that the Philippines must be watchful for,” Alejano said on Facebook Oct. 4 after charging that Chinese boats used sirens to chase away the Philippine patrol vessel. “While the country is talking with China, we should not let our guards down.”

That post had received 540 likes, 346 shares and 50 comments as of mid-Wednesday.

Since a world arbitration court ruled last year against the legal basis for much of China’s claim, the Beijing government has tried to get along with other countries.

Duterte set aside the Philippine maritime dispute with China after taking office in June 2016, to diversify Manila’s foreign policy. In October 2016, China pledged $24 billion in aid and investment to the Philippines, which wants outside help with a five-year infrastructure development plan.

Getting attention

Alejano’s reports have gotten attention from a Supreme Chief justice as well as overseas scholars, including one from the Washington-based RAND Corp., who follow South China Sea issues.

“For the academia, of course we’re listening because his sources of information would be reliable,” said Jay Batongbacal, director of the Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea at the University of the Philippines. “My suspicion is he’s getting this information from frustrated military people who are concerned about what’s going on in the Spratly region.”

Alejano acknowledged “friends” in the military but declined to disclose his sources. He said he talked to fishermen in March and April to document what he called "harassment" by the Chinese.

Calling attention to Chinese activity in the sea should deter China from testing its luck, said Collin Koh, a maritime security research fellow at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

“I think to some extent he will serve as sort of a deterrent, because one thing is that if you look at the previous modus operandi, the Chinese will always want to bet on the other victim keeping quiet and trying to keep a low profile, not playing these incidents, not even publicizing it,” Koh said.

China also has vexed countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia by moving ships through disputed waters despite overall friendly ties. Those countries seldom challenge China in public.

Alejano also filed a complaint earlier this year to impeach Duterte after learning that the president knew Chinese research vessels had parked off the Philippine Pacific coast in 2016.

The government sometimes withholds information, he said. “We want to Duterte to be accountable to the people,” he said.

Ulterior motives?

Alejano, who is allied with former anti-government protester and Sen. Antonio Trillanes, may be seeking attention through social media to win a future Senate race, some analysts believe. Alejano said he had not made such plans.

“I wouldn’t bring much credence to this guy. His group is out to bring down President Duterte, that’s very clear, and he wants to inherit the mantle of Sen. Trillanes, by posing as a tough guy,” said Eduardo Araral, associate professor at the National University of Singapore’s public policy school.

But academics say his reports will likely keep coming — and being heard

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Balochistan to establish first medical university

https://www.dawn.com/news/1366135

The Newspaper's Staff CorrespondentOctober 25, 2017QUETTA: The provincial cabinet on Tuesday approved the draft for establishing a medical university in Balochistan.Health minister Mir Rehmat Saleh Baloch made the announcement while speaking at a press conference after a cabinet meeting.“The cabinet has approved the draft of the medical university which would be presented in the current session of the Balochistan Assembly,” he said, adding with the assembly’s approval the Bolan Medical College would be converted into a medical university.Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2017

5 Shia Hazara community members gunned down in Pakistan

http://m.hindustantimes.com/world-news/5-shia-hazara-community-members-gunned-down-in-pakistan/story-CHWR4lYByRHzf2KjHjMloI.html



Five members of the minority Shia Hazara community, including two women, were killed on Sunday in an attack by unidentified gunmen in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province.This is not the first time that members of the Hazara community have been targeted in Quetta and other parts of Balochistan.(Reuters File Photo)Updated: Sep 11, 2017 00:20 ISTBy Press Trust of India, Press Trust of India, KarachiFive members of the minority Shia Hazara community, including two women, were killed on Sunday in an attack by unidentified gunmen in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province.The gunmen targeted a car in Kuchluck area of Quetta while it was coming from the Chaman border crossing area, police said.The firing took place when the travellers had stopped at a filling station to refuel their vehicle. Five people of the Shia Hazara community, including two women, died in …

China’s 'Digital Silk Road': Pitfalls Among High Hopes

https://thediplomat.com/2017/11/chinas-digital-silk-road-pitfalls-among-high-hopes/


Will information and communication technologies help China realize its Digital Silk Road?By Wenyuan WuNovember 03, 2017In his speech at the opening ceremony of China’s 19th Party Congress, President Xi Jinping depicted China as a model of scientific and harmonious development for developing nations. Xi’s China wants to engage the world through commerce but also through environmental protection and technological advancement. This includes Beijing’s efforts to fight climate change with information and communication technologies (ICTs) that it plans to export along its “One Belt One Road” initiative (OBOR). Xi may have ambitious plans, but could China be throwing up obstacles in its own way?In his speech, the Chinese president emphasized the need to modernize the country’s environmental protections. The Chinese state is taking an “ecological civilization” approach to development and diplomacy, with a natio…