NSC: China’s ‘new model’ in Ayungin Shoal a new invention

By Darryl John Esguerra

April 29, 2024, 4:59 pm

MANILA – China’s so-called “new model” of conduct around Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) is “nothing more than a new invention,” the National Security Council (NSC) said Monday.

In a seminar conducted by the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) for the media, National Security Adviser Secretary Eduardo Año maintained that there is “no agreement whatsoever” in Ayungin Shoal between the Philippines and China.

“Now, this ‘new model’ announced by the Chinese Embassy is nothing more than a new invention. As the President has clearly stated, there is no agreement whatsoever about Ayungin Shoal and that we shall continue to do all activities within the bounds of international law and we shall brook no interference in our lawful actions,” Año said.

The Chinese Embassy in the Philippines previously said “a new model for management of the Ren’ai Jiao (Ayungin Shoal) situation was also agreed upon by both sides early this year after rounds of serious communications with the Philippine military.”

Ayungin Shoal, some 115 nautical miles away from mainland Palawan, has been the latest flashpoint of China’s aggression in the WPS where its coast guard and maritime militia have been engaging in dangerous attacks and maneuvers, including the use of water cannon, against Philippine vessels.

The two countries have been locked in a longstanding territorial row amid China’s expansion in the South China Sea, which it claims along with maritime features that are well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone like Ayungin Shoal.

China’s claim, anchored on the nine-dash line which is now a 10-dash-line, has already been rejected by the 2016 arbitral ruling, which it vehemently disregards.

China’s misinformation

The NTF-WPS, which Año chairs, has been conducting seminars for members of the media as part of its aggressive communications strategy to combat fake news and misinformation that muddled the issue on China's continued bullying in the WPS.

Año said “corrosive narratives” being parroted by “local apologists, propagandists, trolls, and fearmongers who are promoting a ‘defeatist’ attitude, are making the issue on WPS worse.”

Acknowledging the power of the media to influence public opinion, Año then urged journalists not to fall into a trap which “clearly seeks to sow division in our country and weaken our resolve in asserting our sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction in the WPS," and join the government in upholding the Philippines rights in the disputed territory through factual reporting.

Among the “twisted and baseless narratives” that Filipinos must be aware of, according to Año, is the alleged “gentleman’s agreement” of China and the Philippines during the previous administration.

“These are clearly black propaganda used to create distractions, divisions, and conflict among our people,” Año said.

“It serves no purpose and has no bearing because President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has been very clear: ‘This administration is not aware of any secret or gentleman’s agreement and if there was such done under a previous administration, the same has been rescinded’,” he added, quoting President Marcos’ statement on the issue. (PNA)