By Roy Ramos
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines
Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio, urged Philippine foreign secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and President Rodrigo Duterte, on Saturday, to "vigorously protest" what he called "invasion of Philippine territory."
”They should send a Philippine navy ship to guard Sandy Cay, and if the Chinese navy ships attack the Philippine navy vessel, they should invoke the Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty," said Carpio.
Satellite photos released by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (AMTI-CSIS) showed Chinese vessels within one to three nautical miles off Pag-asa Island, a Philippine-owned island, also called Thitu.
AMTI concluded that the presence of Chinese government vessels in the area obviously shows awareness of the presence of the nine civilian ships.
“At best, they permitted their operation. At worst, they escorted and guarded them,” AMTI said.
The photos released support the alarm raised by Philippine lawmaker Gary Alejano of Chinese’s “sinister plan to occupy sandbars” near Pag-asa. “One possible explanation for the flotilla’s sudden and provocative appearance is that Beijing wanted to dissuade Manila from planned construction on Thitu,” AMTI was quoted by Inquirer online as saying.
AMTI added that the Chinese vessels appeared in the area after the Philippines announced plans to spend at least $32 million to upgrade facilities in Pag-asa which were delayed due to stormy weather.