By Junex Doronio
MANILA — Just like Mao Zedong’s strategy of protracted war, China appears to be surrounding the Philippines from the disputed West Philippine Sea, as its maritime militia swarms Julian Felipe or Whitsun Reef days after the Asian superpower has donated Sinovac vaccines for the novel coronavirus disease of 2019 (Covid-19).
Retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio on Wednesday, 24 March, compared the latest development to how the Chinese occupied Mischief Reef, which is also within Philippine exclusive economic zone, back in 1995.
“It’s possible that China is encroaching on our maritime zone but softening it by sending us vaccines, by donating to us vaccines. It’s part of their PR (public relations) effort to soften the blow but we should not fall for that,” Carpio said during Wednesday’s interview with “Headstart” on ANC.
He said China’s vaccine donations “soften blow” while its maritime militia swarms Julian Felipe Reef.
Since 07 March, about 220 Chinese fishing vessels, believed to be part of Beijing’s maritime militia, were seen moored in line formation on the coral reef, the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea and the Philippine Coast Guard had confirmed.
A week before the sighting of the Chinese vessels, the Philippines received 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines donated by the Chinese government.
A second batch of 400,000 doses arrived Wednesday morning, a few days after the Philippines fired a diplomatic protest over the presence of Chinese ships in the West Philippine Sea.
Carpio pointed out the importance of the country’s maritime zones as he said the Philippines does not have to rely on China for vaccines.
He warned that the presence of Chinese boats in Julian Felipe might be a prelude to occupying the area.