West Philippine Sea

In Malacañang visit, US lawmakers affirm support for PH as row with China worsens

Dwight de Leon

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In Malacañang visit, US lawmakers affirm support for PH as row with China worsens

MEETING. A US congressional delegation pays a courtesy call on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Malacañang on March 26, 2024.

Presidential Communications Office

An American senator tells President Marcos that the US is concerned about China's aggression, and promises to stand by the Philippines in its pushback

MANILA, Philippines – The issue of escalating tensions between Manila and Beijing in the West Philippine Sea was put into the spotlight during President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s meeting with a US congressional delegation in Malacañang on Tuesday, March 26.

A press release from the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said the American lawmakers expressed support for the Philippine government in its push to assert its sovereignty in the maritime region.

“We share your concern about China’s aggression with regard to many of the issues around the Philippines. We stand with you and we want to continue to stand by you, and with you, and to push that aggression back appropriately,” Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, told Marcos during the courtesy call.

Gillibrand was joined by other lawmakers, namely:

  • Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat from New Hampshrie
  • Senator Roger Marshall, Republican from Kansas
  • Senator Mark Kelly (D) of Arizona
  • Senator Cynthia Lummis (R) of Wyoming
  • Senator Michael Bennet (D) of Colorado
  • Representative Adriano Espaillat (D) of New York’s 13th District

“I hope that the time that you will spend here can be a productive time where we are able to discuss further the situation concerning the Philippines and the geopolitical complications that we are facing presently,” Marcos also told the lawmakers. 

The visit comes just a few days after the China Coast Gaurd used water cannons at Philippine resupply boat on its way to BRP Sierra Madre, the dilapidated Philippine Navy ship that serves as the country’s military outpost on the Ayungin Shoal.

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The Unaizah May 4 suffered severe damage, and three of its crew members sustained injuries.

Manila subsequently summoned the Chinese embassy’s Charge d’affaires Zhou Zhiyong to protest the harassment tactics used by China during the March 23 mission. The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs also questioned the sincerity of China in lowering the tensions in the maritime region.

China claims sovereignty over virtually all of the islands in the South China Sea, and has refused to recognize a 2016 arbitral ruling won by the Philippines, which invalidated Beijing’s nine-dash line.

Marcos is set to fly to Washington in April for a trilateral summit between the Philippines, the US, and Japan. The meeting is expected to yet again zero in on the South China sea problem. – Rappler.com

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Malacañang, and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.