By JOVILAND RITA, GMA Integrated News
Defense Secretary Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro Jr. on Monday said the country will establish more bases for military and civilian agencies to protect its archipelagic baselines.
“Wala pang napag-usapan na ganoon. Pero Philippine bases, definitely magdadagdag tayo,” Teodoro told Unang Balita when asked if the Philippines and the United States will set up more EDCA sites considering China’s aggressive actions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
(We have not discussed anything like that yet. But Philippine bases, definitely we will add more.)
Teodoro said they have yet to determine the locations of the possible new bases but he instructed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to build them at the extremities of the country’s archipelagic baselines.
“Ito ay magiging joint Coast Guard, Philippine Navy or Philippine Air Force, at civilian sites kasi kinakailangan natin protektahan ang ating baselines,” he said.
(These will be joint sites of the Coast Guard, Philippine Navy, Philippine Air Force, and civilian agencies because we need to protect our archipelagic baselines.)
The planning and groundwork for the additional Philippine bases will start next year, according to Teodoro.
Recently, the Philippines removed the floating barrier which the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) placed in the southeast portion of Scarborough Shoal.
The removal was done upon the instructions of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and National Security Adviser Eduardo Año, who also heads the National Task Force for the WPS
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said China installed the floating barrier to prevent a Philippine vessel from supposedly trespassing into Scarborough Shoal.
Scarborough Shoal, locally known as Bajo de Masinloc, is a U-shaped rocky outcrop teeming with marine resources. China seized it from Manila in 2012 following a two-month standoff, triggering an arbitration complaint by Manila 10 years ago.
The shoal is 472 nautical miles from China’s nearest coastal province of Hainan and lies 124 nautical miles off the nearest Philippine landmass of Palawan.
An arbitral tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, which invalidated China’s sweeping claims over the South China Sea, ruled that no country can claim sovereign rights over the shoal, saying it is a traditional fishing ground for Filipino, Vietnamese and Chinese fishermen.
It also ruled that Beijing violated the rights of Filipinos, who were blocked by Chinese Coast Guard from fishing in the disputed shoal off northwestern Philippines.
China has refused to recognize the ruling. —KBK, GMA Integrated News