MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro minced no words Saturday against China after it claimed the BRP Sierra Madre is causing “irrevocable damage” and pollution in the West Philippine Sea.
“China’s statement that the grounded Sierra Madre is causing irrevocable damage is, to put it as politely as possible, hypocritical,” Teodoro said in a statement.
“Talk about the pot calling the kettle black,” he added.
On Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning said if the government “really cares about the WPS,” it should tow away the Philippine Navy ship grounded in Ayungin Shoal. He claims it discharges polluted water and causes “irrevocable damage” to the ocean.
The World War II warship, located at low tide about 194 kilometers outside Palawan province in the country’s exclusive economic zone, has been hosting a small contingent of military personnel since 1999.
China responded after allegations that suspected Chinese maritime militias are behind the destruction of corals in Rozul Reef.
“Disingenuous propaganda lines like this only serve to expose China’s insincerity and will only increase the distrust of the Filipino people and the rest of the world toward the Chinese government,” Teodoro added.
Teodoro, who had considered the possibility that the harvested corals in the Rozul Reef could be used for recovery, also denounced China’s “illegal reclamation activities” in the disputed maritime zones.
“The 2016 arbitration award found that it was a violation of international law when such activities damaged the marine environment,” he said of China’s artificial islands.
China claims it controls almost all areas in the South China Sea, including the WPS through the 10-dash line.
But the Philippines challenged the then nine-dash line before the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which invalidated Beijing’s sweeping demarcation in 2016.
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