This is how Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, the newly-designated chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), finds China’s new law authorizing its Coast Guard ships to “employ deadly force” in protecting its maritime rights in the South China Sea (SCS).
Bluntly put, the law, passed recently by the National People’s Congress, allows the Chinese Coast guard to open fire on foreign vessels found to be interloping in its territorial waters.
This has raised objections from neighboring Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines who say this is a blatant violation of international law and the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea.
Gen. Sobejana – who is considered a genuine hero having been awarded the Medal of Valor (the equivalent of the US Medal of Honor) which is the nation’s highest military award for courage in the line of duty – this is “very irresponsible” on the part of China since Filipinos venture there only to catch fish for a living and not wage war.
He stressed that Philippine Navy ships are deployed in the SCS (or West Philippine Sea) to protect Filipinos and not to fight with the Chinese Coast Guard.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Sobejana’s superior, had said the new Coast guard law creates a lot of concern due to the potential of accidental armed conflict and miscalculations.
“It could be dangerous. It might cause open conflict,” Lorenzana told CNN Philippines.