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Roque: Aquino gov't committed war act by sending Navy ship to Scarborough

The Palace on Tuesday accused the Aquino Administration of committing an act of war against China when it sent a Philippine Navy ship to the Scarborough shoal in 2012.

Roque made the assertion on the same day that the former Philippine envoy to the United States Jose Cuisia Jr. told GMA News that China violated its agreement with the Philippines in 2012 for the two parties to simultaneously pull out ships from the Scarborough Shoal amid a prolonged standoff.

The agreement was brokered by the United States.

"Nagpadala po ng kaisa-isahang Navy boat nung panahong yun ang administrasyong Aquino. Pag nagpadala ka ng gray ship, that's an act of war," Roque said.

(We sent our lone Navy ship during the Aquino administration. When you send a gray ship, that is an act of war.)

Roque went on to again blame the Aquino Administration for the loss of the Scarborough Shoal, a traditional fishing ground.

"Bagamat nauna po ang administrasyong Aquino na magpadala ng Navy boat, sila rin po ang unang umalis sa Scarborough Shoal, dahilan kung bakit kontrolado ito ngayon ng mga Tsino," Roque said.

(While the Aquino Administration was the first to send a Navy boat, they were also the ones who pulled out. That is why China has control of it now.)

Asked why the blame is on the Aquino Administration rather than China who did not fulfill their end of the pullout agreement, Roque conceded that it was wrong to trust China.

"Nagkamali sila ng pagtiwala [sa Tsina]," Roque said.

(They were wrong to trust China.)

The Scarborough incident prompted the Aquino Administration to sue China before the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2013.

In a July 2016 ruling, the Permanent Court of Arbitration rejected China's claim of sovereignty over the entire South China Sea and condemned China's aggression against Filipino fisherfolk in the Scarborough Shoal.

The same Hague court decision also ruled that the Spratly Islands, Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, and Recto (Reed) Bank were within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.

President Rodrigo Duterte, however, downplayed the legal victory, which he characterized as nothing more than a piece of paper that belonged in a wastebasket. — DVM, GMA News