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Diplomatic protests vs. China should be made public — security expert

Diplomatic protests filed by the Philippine government against China over its militarization activities in the South China Sea should be publicized to ease the public's worry over the issue, a security analyst said Thursday.

"Mainam na isapubliko 'yan para naman makumbinsi 'yung mamamayang Pilipino, para mapakita na merong ginagawang diplomatic actions ang ating pamahalaan at doon lang talaga 'yung pwede nating gawin," political and security scholar Professor Rommel Banlaoi told GMA News' Balitanghali.

"May mga bagay na di muna kailangang isapubliko, lalo na kung kasalukuyang nine-negotiate. Pero 'yung mga sa tingin nilang makakapagkalma sa pagdududa ng mamamayang Pilipino ay dapat maisapubliko 'yan," he added.

Amid criticism of the administration's supposed inaction regarding Chinese militarization and reclamations in the disputed territories, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday insisted that the government has been filing "several dozens" of diplomatic protests against the Asian superpower, noting that there have been "maybe 50 [to] 100" protests made over the past two years.

Cayetano said the government has chosen not to announce these protests regularly through the media.

"We have been filing a diplomatic protest. But the critics want us to announce it loudly and to confront China each and every time to the media. That is not conducive through the ongoing talks," Cayetano said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), however, maintained that it has been monitoring Chinese activities in the region.

Cayetano earlier hit back at calls for the government to file a protest over Chinese activity in the West Philippine Sea.

"For those who keep saying, 'file a protest, file a protest,' ano ba ang ibig naming sabihin noong sinabi naming, 'we are taking all diplomatic actions?' At the right time, we will prove you wrong," he said.

On Tuesday, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said there was no reason for the government to lodge a protest against China's deployment of strategic bombers in the Paracel Islands. The islands are not claimed by the Philippines, but US think tank Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) earlier reported that military build-up on the Paracels might play a role in China's "eventual" military deployments in the Spratlys.

Echoing statements by Cayetano and President Rodrigo Duterte, Esperon also said that there was no point in questioning China's actions in the disputed sea.

"Not to defend the landing there, it is an incident that is part of actually a drill for landing. But the purpose for that must be looked into, it is exactly that, training," Esperon said.

"Was it aimed at us? Was it aimed at any country na kailangan ba magprotesta tayo?... Shall we lodge a protest against that? Palagay ko hindi," he added.

On Wednesday, eight senators filed a resolution urging the Department of Foreign Affaris to file a diplomatic protest over China's reported installation of anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems on Kagitingan Reef, Subi Reef, and Panganiban Reef. — Anna Felicia Bajo/BM, GMA News