The United States stands with the Philippines over the presence of Chinese Militia Vessels in Philippine waters, this kind of action was meant to intimidate and threaten the country and the regional stability of the neighboring nation.
The reef that being disputed is within the West Philippine Sea, the country’s exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea which the Country of China claims its entirety. Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana already filed a diplomatic protest to have china recalled the 220 boats in the Julian Felipe Reef also known as Whitsun Reef.
The US Embassy in a statement said that “The People’s Republic of China uses maritime militia to intimidate, provoke, and threaten other nations, which undermines peace and security in the region… We share the concerns of our Philippine allies.”
I think this is a strategically motivated move by the Chinese Government to slowly claim the area of islands in the EEZ of the Philippines. They are testing the water per se like they did when they slowly built an island with an airstrip in the disputed territorial sea. They are using Chinese militias so that whatever untoward incident happens was more likely the Chinese Embassy will deny they have anything to do with it. They are making a move right now because they know they are friends with the Duterte Administration and they are making sure that their objectives are being met because in the next administration they don’t know if they have the same treatment like the present administration has.
The President is mum on what is happening in the West Philippine Sea because of the debt of gratitude he has with China. So the diplomatic protest is the only thing he can do right now, hoping the US will back the Philippines in the said protest, which they did because they know how important the Philippines is in the stability of the region. They can’t afford to lose the grip in the Philippines because our country is one of their regional strategic points when it comes to fighting China if ever a war with China will break out.
President Duterte is preoccupied right now with the rise of covid19 infection in the country, so the West Philippine Sea issue is not his priority. Time and time again in his speech, he said that we don’t have the capability to start a war with China; all we can do is to talk about it and make some compromise agreement. In a sense, that is true. But all we are asking is to stand up for the right of the Filipino people in our territorial sea, even though it is an exclusive economic zone not a part of our sovereignty but still it is our EEZ and the UNCLOS gives every nation to draw a specific line for their exclusive economic zone.
This would be one of those hot issues that will be tackled during the campaign period in the coming election. We remembered what the president said when a moderator in a debate asked him about China claiming our island, and he said specifically that he will jets Ki travel the disputed island, but that answer is for the sake of politics and that was one of the issues that propelled him to win the election.