Philip­pine ex-rebel sol­dier to make ‘pa­tri­otic’ voy­age

The China Post - - LOCAL -

A for­mer cap­tain in the Philip­pine Marines im­pli­cated in two at­tempts to top­ple for­mer Pres­i­dent Glo­ria Ma­ca­pa­gal Ar­royo an­nounced on Tues­day that he will em­bark on a “pa­tri­otic” voy­age to islets along the Reed Bank in the dis­puted South China Sea to protest against the main­land’s in­fringe­ment on Philip­pine sovereignty.

Ni­canor Fael­don, who gained na­tional and in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion for de­cry­ing the al­leged cor­rup­tion un­der the Ar­royo gov­ern­ment, will start the voy­age April 30 from Batanes, the Philip­pines’ north­ern­most is­land prov­ince, and is sched­uled to ar­rive in Oc­to­ber near the west­ern is­land of Palawan, near the dis­puted Spratly Is­lands.

Fael­don told the press at the head­quar­ters of the Armed Forces of the Philip­pines that the South China Sea is­sue can­not be set­tled by the gov­ern­ment alone and that he wants to call for sup­port from all Filipinos for the gov­ern­ment’s ef­forts to de­fend its sovereignty.

Fael­don par­tic­i­pated as one of the al­leged lead­ers of a mil­i­tary mutiny against the Ar­royo ad­min­is­tra­tion in July 2009 and was granted amnesty by Pres­i­dent Benigno Aquino III in April 2011.

Af­ter a stand­off over the Scarborough Shoal, also known as Huangyan Is­land or Panatag Shoal in the South China Sea be­tween mainand China and the Philip­pines oc­curred in May 2012, Fael­don put for­ward a plan to fish in the dis­puted shoal to claim the coun­try’s sovereignty over it, but the plan was with­drawn due to dis­cour­age­ment by the gov­ern­ment.

This time around, Fael­don said he will in­vite fish­er­men and other pa­tri­ots to join the trip and hopes to at­tract at least one civil­ian ves­sel from each prov­ince to join the ranks to demon­strate Filipino op­po­si­tion to main­land China’s in­tru­sion into the South China Sea through its land recla­ma­tion projects.

If all goes well, a fleet of some 80 fish­ing and civil­ian ships will ac­com­pany Fael­don when he ar­rives in Palawan, he said.

Satel­lite images re­leased re­cently by the Philip­pine mil­i­tary show that main­land China has been car­ry­ing out land recla­ma­tion work on at least seven is­lands in the South China Sea, a move that has prompted the Philip­pines to ac­cuse main­land China of in­fring­ing on its sovereignty and un­der­min­ing the marine en­vi­ron­ment.

Ter­ri­to­rial dis­putes in the South China Sea in­volve both is­land and mar­itime claims among sev­eral sovereign states within the re­gion, namely Brunei, main­land China, Tai­wan, Malaysia, the Philip­pines and Viet­nam.

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