Former National Security Adviser Roilo Golez does not believe in China’s recent statement about Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal and Benham Rise and reveals its “master plan.”
“Parating ganiyan iyan. Tatanggi. Pero huwag po tayo maniwala diyan. Kailangan guwardiyado tayo parati,” Golez said in an interview on GMA 7’s News To Go program on Thursday.
This came after Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying denied reports on Wednesday about China’s plans to start preparatory work in Panatag Shoal for building a radar station or an environmental monitoring station.
Golez said that he has a copy of the supposed masterplan of China for Panatag, which includes the construction of a runway, buildings, and a future “resort like” area. He claimed he obtained it by participating in international study groups.
“Iyong master plan nila, kasi may batong nakaikot. Ide-develop nila iyan. Maglalagay na naman sila ng runway, ng mga building doon, missile sites. Mayroong gagawin pa nilang resort and a giant harbor that can be as big as Quezon City. Iyan ang master plan nila,” he said.
He also warned the Philippines that China could pull off what he did to Mischief Reef (Panganiban Reef), this time with Panatag. China reclaimed the Mischief Reef and built permanent structures, including a runway, and eventually converted it into a Chinese military base. The said reef is situated west of Palawan in the Spratlys, which is believed to be rich in natural gas and oil resources.
Golez also doubted China’s statement about its survey ships merely conducting an “innocent passage” in Benham Rise last year.
“Ang innocent passage, deretso ang pagbyahe mo. Hindi ka lumiliko, hindi ka tumitigil… Pero kung dumaan ka doon whole day at tumitigil pa. Hindi na innocent passage iyon. Nakakatakot na iyon,” he said.
He said the government should assert its rights over the disputed territories, adding that doing so does not necessarily mean going to war and imposing the rule of law.
“Hindi naman military ang labanan dito. Ang pinag-uusapan dito rule of law. Maganda ito. Ang buong mundo nag-oobserve sa South China Sea,” he added.
“Tayo dapat manindigan doon. Hindi giyera ang pinag-uusapan dito, this is going to be a legal battle. Rule of law ang pinag-uusapan dito at public diplomacy,” he added.
Golez gave President Rodrigo Duterte the thumbs up for telling the Philippine military to notify the Chinese vessels in Benham Rise, in a friendly manner, that the Philippines own it. Remaining “silent” on the issue may gave China a reason to accuse the Philippines of “abandoning” its claims over the territories under dispute.
“It’s a good strategy kasi siyempre good balancing iyan. We have to engage China,” Golez said.