MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo found the landing of Chinese bombers in the South China Sea "alarming," calling the move a "security threat" to the Philippines and the rest of Southeast Asia.
"Lubhang nakababahala ang mga balitang mayroong lumapag na mga eroplano mula sa Tsina sa ating mga isla, na may kakayahang gumamit ng armas nuklear. Maliban pa rito, nakakaalarma rin ang pagsagawa ng mga landing at take-off exercises ng Tsina sa West Philippine Sea gamit ang kanilang mga long-range bombers," said Robredo on Tuesday, May 22.
(The news about the landing of the Chinese bombers on our islands is extremely worrisome. Aside from this, the landing and take-off exercises of China in the West Philippine Sea using their long-range bombers is alarming.)
The Vice President issued her statement 3 days after the Chinese bombers landed on the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.
Robredo, however, erroneously said the Chinese bombers landed on Philippine territory. The Philippines is not claiming ownership of the Paracel Islands.
Her legal adviser Barry Gutierrez admitted the mistake in a reply to a tweet by an Inquirer.net reporter.
"Thank you for the clarification, @inquirerdotnet. The point of the statement remains: That these Chinese nuclear-capable bombers pose a threat to PH interests in the WPS (West Philippine Sea) and the security of the region, and our DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) should address this issue decisively," said Gutierrez.
Thank you for the clarification @inquirerdotnet. The point of the statement remains: that these Chinese nuclear-capable bombers pose a threat to PH interests in the WPS and the security of the region, and our DFA should address this issue decisively. — Barry Gutierrez (@barrygutierrez3) May 22, 2018
Renewed call for diplomatic protest
According to Robredo, the increased military activity in the South China Sea is a "security threat."
"Banta sa seguridad ng Pilipinas at ng buong rehiyon ang patuloy na pagdami ng mga kagamitang militar at walang tigil na pagtayo ng mga istraktura sa mga islang ito. Nakasaad sa ating Saligang Batas na ipinagbabawal ang presensiya ng anumang sandatang nuklear sa kahit na saang lugar sa Pilipinas," said the Vice President.
(The increase in the number of military equipment and the building of infrastructure in these islands is a security threat against the Philippines and the rest of the region. Our Constitution prohibits the presence of nuclear weapons in any Philippine territory.)
She then urged the DFA to file a diplomatic protest against China. She previously made the same call to the DFA after China installed missile systems on 3 islands in the West Philippine Sea, a part of the South China Sea that belongs to the Philippines.
"Inaasahan ng sambayanang Pilipino ang pamahalaan nito na ipagtanggol nang buong tapang ang ating seguridad. Kung ang mismong pamahalaan ay hindi titindig para sa integridad ng ating teritoryo, saan pa aasa ang ating bayan?" said Robredo.
(Filipinos expect the government to bravely defend our security. If the government itself does not stand up for the integrity of our territories, to whom will the nation depend on?)