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PCG vows not to make aggressive moves vs China in WPS

Regardless of China's continued aggression in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) will not counter it with the same level of aggression and use arms, an official said.

In an episode of The Mangahas Interviews, PCG spokesperson for the WPS Commodore Jay Tarriela said President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. has instructed them not to be aggressive towards China as the possible response may be too much for the Philippines to handle. 

"Despite of the harassment, despite of the aggressive behavior of China Coast Guard, we're not going to respond with the same level of aggression," Tarriela said.

"We have to make sure that we are going to maintain cooler heads and we are not going to cross that line of doing another aggressive activity because they might counter respond na hindi rin natin kakayanin (that we couldn't handle)," he added. 

The Philippine government, according to Tarriela, knows how far it can go and how tolerant it should be to prevent any "kinetic conflict" with China. 

He also said that Philippine forces will not use armed aggression to counter China's attacks against Philippine vessels. 

"Using an armed means to elevate this is something na hindi manggagaling sa atin (that will not start from us). Definitely, hindi natin gagamitin ang (we will not resort to) armed aggression to respond to the bullying of China," Tarriela said.

Tarriela said he believes that China would also hesitate to use armed means to attack Philippine vessels as they know it would trigger the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the Philippines and the United States. 

"They know that the moment armed attack has already been done on the part of the People’s Republic of China, then it would trigger a Mutual Defense Treaty, which is a much bigger problem than they can ever imagine," he said. 

Recent aggressive actions by China Coast Guard (CCG) against Philippine vessels took place over the weekend. On Saturday, CCG ships fired a water cannon at the vessels of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) headed to Scarborough Shoal to distribute oil and other supplies to fisherfolk.

The CCG also used water cannon against Philippine vessels on a routine resupply and rotation mission to the BRP Sierra Madre stationed at the Ayungin Shoal on Sunday. 

National Task Force for West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said China's latest aggressive actions against Philippine vessels in the WPS were a "serious escalation" on the part of Beijing's agents.

Despite these, Tarriela said he is hopeful that the situation in the WPS would end up with the Philippines modifying the aggressive behavior of China. 

"Sa dumadaming bilang ng mga bansang kumokondena at nagki-criticize ng activities ng China sa West Philippine Sea, naniniwala ako na ito ay patuloy na makakapagbago ng kanilang activities dito," he said.

(With an increasing number of countries condemning and criticizing China's activities in the West Philippine Sea, I believe that this will change China's activities in the WPS.)

Tarriela also called on Filipinos to correct any disinformation on social media that would undermine the Philippine government's efforts against China. 

"Ngayon, kung ang mga Pilipino hahayaan lang ang fake news na ito to pass through our timeline or the newsfeed natin, baka ang susunod na Pilipino na makabasa n'on, kung hindi natin iko-call out, 'yun ang paniniwalaan niyang totoong nangyayari sa West Philippine Sea," he said. 

(If Filipinos just let this fake news slide on timeline or our newsfeed, the next Filipino to read it might believe that this is really what’s happening in the West Philippine Sea.)

The Philippines has filed a diplomatic protest against China following its recent aggressions at the Scarborough Shoal and Ayungin Shoal in the WPS. —KBK, GMA Integrated News