PH has solid evidence of China reclamation in Escoda Shoal

By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz

May 14, 2024, 3:37 pm

<p>National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) spokesperson Philippine Coast Guard Commodore Jay Tarriela <em>(PNA photo by Robert Alfiler)</em></p>

National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) spokesperson Philippine Coast Guard Commodore Jay Tarriela (PNA photo by Robert Alfiler)

MANILA – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has found concrete evidence of China’s land reclamation in Escoda Shoal in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), an official of the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) said Tuesday.

NTF-WPS spokesperson, PCG Commodore Jay Tarriela, said the findings of the PCG vessel BRP Teresa Magbanua in Escoda Shoal confirm China’s construction of artificial islands and extensive damage to the coral system in the area.

“China cannot simply dismiss these findings as disinformation, as we have documented the presence of their vessels in the area. It is widely known that China is the only country in the region that disregards environmental concerns,” Tarriela said in a post over X.

He said BRP Teresa Magbanua was the only Philippine vessel sent to investigate the shoal but provoked a response from over 30 Chinese maritime militia vessels, three Chinese Coast Guard vessels, three People’s Liberation Army Navy warships, and three research vessels.

“It is time to stop lying and be man enough to own your unlawful plans that are in progress,” he said.

The statement was in response to a story released by Chinese international news outfit Global Times that the allegations made by the Philippines regarding illegal activities by China in Escoda Shoal were “groundless accusations” and that “such provocations could spark a standoff.”

Tarriela accused China of employing “deception, denial, and false narratives while projecting a façade of concern for regional stability.”

“They excel at crafting statements and narrating events in a way that convinces others of their peaceful intentions and care for the marine environment,” he said.

However, he said the Philippines’ transparency in the WPS has been effective in revealing “falsehoods behind their convincing lies.”

“Our primary objective is to expose the truth and unveil their pretense so that they come to realize that no amount of deceit can conceal their ambitious and greed-driven agenda of controlling the entire South China Sea,” he said.

Earlier, BRP Teresa Magbanua was deployed to Escoda Shoal after marine biologists from the University of the Philippines, led by Dr. Jonathan Anticamara, found there was low coral and fish diversity in Sandy Cay, locally known as Pag-asa Cay.

Anticamara noted that the degraded state of the area was possibly due to “a combination of disturbances from overfishing, climate change impacts, and island-building activities in WPS.” (PNA)