Robredo: Chinese intrusion on PH territory a 'most serious' threat

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 11) — Vice President Leni Robredo said China's continued encroachment on Philippine territory is the most serious external threat to the country since World War II.

Robredo criticized China's continued militarization of islands in the West Philippine Sea, citing reports the country is now within striking distance of nuclear-ready bombers that China supposedly put up in the Parcel islands in the South China Sea.

She urged the government to act and exhaust all diplomatic actions, and to peacefully protest China's actions in disputed waters.

The Vice President said there is a need to ensure that the country's diplomatic protests contain the strongest possible wording.

This, after recent reports on Chinese coast guard's aggressions against Filipino fishermen.

Some fisherfolk frequenting Scarborough Shoal reported the Chinese coast guard had forcefully taken their catch and fishing equipment on numerous occasions.

"We softened our stance on the West Philippine Sea to avoid conflict. But the conflict that we are scared of is already at our doors. Our fisherfolk are physically restricted with guns, ammunition, ships, and intimidation," Robredo said at a West Philippine Sea forum at the University of the Philippines-Diliman Monday.

She added,"Shouldn't this be the time for us to peacefully protest any effort to limit or control international waters? Many countries would be supportive of such move. Trump and Abe have already issued a joint statement saying that diplomatic efforts should lead to demilitarization of the area."

Robredo also said the country's sovereignty should not be given up over trade and investment deals with China. 

She urged Filipinos to be more vigilant and to be more aware of our country's foreign policy.

Also at the event was former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, who was among the country's lawyers that argued the case against China before a Hague-based international arbitral tribunal.

Hilbay criticized the government's stance on the West Philippine Sea, calling it a "policy of submission."

"Our traditional allies don't see us as a reliable ally anymore. Why? Because of the way we treated the U.S., the EU, even the way we treated Japan," Hilbay said.

He said the country's "wishy washy" approach to diplomacy showed the Philippines was weaker than before.