Source: Philippine Online Chronicles
Five Chinese warships were reportedly deployed near Philippine waters following the visit of a nuclear-powered submarine from the United States.
Philippine Star reported that a news outlet from Taiwan identified the ships as two Type-052B destroyers, two Type-054A frigates and one Type-071 amphibious transport vessel.
Media said the ships are on a training mission and are on their way to an unspecified location near the Philippines. They may also be sent to support China’s fishery administration ships around Panatag Shoal, a disputed island claimed by various nations including Philippines and China.
The cited news outlet Douwie News read, “With a displacement of just 3,200 tons, the Hamilton-class cutter of the Philippine Navy is no match for the four Chinese destroyers and frigates which together would carry about 48 C-802/803 anti-ship missiles. The Philippines has none.”
The news came after USS North Carolina suddenly surfaced in the former US Naval Base in Subic for reprovisioning. It is said to be among the most modern submarines in the US Navy. The visit is reportedly unannounced and came during the continuing standoff between the two countries.
Earlier, critics slammed the entry of the US submarine, saying it is unconstitutional and will provoke China’s ire.
Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Emmi De Jesus said, “This is not a simple issue of routine ship replenishment for food and water but the lack of respect for our Constitution and sovereignty.”
She explained that it is in direct violation of the Philippine Constitution which bans the entry of nuclear weapons into the country.
De Jesus said the submarine may further escalate the five-week standoff between China and the Philippines.
“Instead of resolving issues in the diplomatic table, President Aquino has allowed the intrusion of US war mongering in the guise of protecting Philippine interest. When has the US acted politically and economically on behalf of any other interest other than its own? Is President Aquino blind to this reality or is he only admitting to his administration’s full puppetry to US economic and political interests?” she said.
Meanwhile, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda asserted that it has nothing to do with the dispute involving Panatag (Scarborough) shoal.
“For the record, there was a request made to our government on April 3 that was before the Panatag incident and they requested to be allowed to be berthed here for the purpose of supply, replenishment and maintenance of shipboard systems. This has nothing to do with the Panatag Shoal incident,” Lacierda explained.
US reclaims naval base?
On the other hand, groups like Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) and Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) pointed out that US is again assuming its control over its former naval base, although in an undeclared form.
“It appears to us that the former US military naval base in Subic is back to its former status as Washington’s biggest naval base outside mainland America. And the big trouble here is that President Benigno Simeon Aquino III is hiding this matter from the collective knowledge of over 100 million Filipinos,” Pamalakaya said in a statement.
The group agreed with De Jesus, saying that the “visit” was a clear violation of the Philippines’ national sovereignty. They urged the Senate to pursue an inquiry.
Meanwhile, BAYAN explained that “The port calls made by US warships is part of a greater strategy to project US military power in the region. It is directed at all countries in the region, but most especially China, in order to keep China subservient to US dictates.”
BAYAN secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said the visit created “a host of social and legal issues.”
He explained that while the “virtual basing and hosting” of US warships are being justified by the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement, it is a way for US to “rebalance” towards Asia.