Netizens just found another reason to be angry at the Duterte administration’s inaction over Chinese man-made islands in the West Philippine Sea as ABS-CBN journalist Chiara Zambrano shows how local reefs have now been taken over by Beijing.
Netizens blew their fuses after both seeing and hearing what Zambrano experienced during her recent trip to waters within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Zambrano showed a scenario in the several reefs in the West Philippine Sea via her one-minute and 36-second clip. Recently, she joined the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for an aerial survey in the area.
I’ve flown over some of the artificial islands of China when they were still being built. So see them now, completed, is both chilling and sobering.
— Chiara Zambrano (@chiarazambrano) March 31, 2021
“I’ve flown over some of the artificial islands of China when they were still being built. To see them now completed is both chilling and sobering,” said Zambrano, who also shared the reefs they flew over in the video.
She also included in her short edit a text message that one would normally receive if you visit China: an automated advisory from telecommunications companies saying “Welcome to China” and to subscribe to a data roaming plan.
Tapang at Malasakit.
The common filipino will never realize how important our land is if they are always thinking about where they are going to get the money for their next meal.
This administration did serve the people (elites)
and if you say na okay si duterte kasi maraming+ https://t.co/tXO0EV2yup
— odc (@papaodc) March 31, 2021
All these artificial islands were built bet 2016-2018. Guess who’s term is that???? Asan na jetski mong puta ka https://t.co/wwer3O12Kp
— L (@mchlbc) March 31, 2021
China has been occupying our reefs and the government is not doing anything
KUNG DI KA PA GALIT, BAKIT https://t.co/UizHOsn80Q
— 🥁 정폴 (@wheesuschrist) March 31, 2021
Some Netizens have even linked recent activities by Chinese “fishing vessels” to the number of donated vaccines the country just received from Beijing.
I think we can all agree that while we are at the mercy of sinovac, China has been occupying our reefs https://t.co/sHAknyzbgP
— Regie Duran (@regieduran) March 31, 2021
One Netizen even pointed out how the AFP and the Duterte administration still look towards “harassing Filipinos” as a show of strength.
While Chinese forces are pre-occupied with building military bases and exploiting the resources of the Philippines, AFP are still busy with harassing Filipinos and protecting the interests of Duterte and his allies. 🙃 https://t.co/OQ91dToYMR
— earl (@earldanjohn) March 31, 2021
A Netizen, on the other hand, would summarize the thoughts of many in one sentence.
— Donnie Brasco (@GboyRabor) March 31, 2021
This line is a throwback to what President Rodrigo Duterte claims is an “independent foreign policy” of using his ‘own’ ways to deal with other nations.
As of writing, Zambrano’s video has garnered over 224,000 views, nearly 7,800 likes, and over 5,000 times retweets.
Such accounts are not the last of those who looked into or personally visited the airspace over these contested waters.
Rappler journalist Jairo Bolledo exposed ‘exactly’ how many Chinese vessels are in Philippine waters as of March 29.
Can you imagine? All in all, there are 258 Chinese vesels roaming in Philippine territorial waters as of March 29.
Not just in Julian Felipe Reef – but in different reefs in the West Philippine Sea. https://t.co/uO8ppBQavc
— Jairo Bolledo (@jairojourno) March 31, 2021
It would also prompt what is ‘now described’ as the strongest statement to ever come from the Philippines against the Chinses presence in the West Philippine Sea.
In his report, Bolledo said the task force has called on Beijing to “immediately withdraw these vessels flying its flag. NTF-WPS stands by its observation that these so-called ‘fishing’ vessels are the maritime militia. Their build-up and massing formation from Julian Felipe Reef to other areas of the Kalayaan Island Group is hazardous to navigation and safety of life at sea.”
Those in the frontlines of the West Philippine Sea issue, specifically the military personnel recently sent to patrol the contested waters and airspace, have also gone viral for their bold move in responding to a Chinese radio challenge.
China really is brazenly defiant wtf. A 500-page Decision from The Hague ain’t enough??? That “Chinese Reef” has no right to be on the WEST PHILIPPINE SEA mfs!
— angelique⁷∞🌱 (@skypil_) March 31, 2021
In this viral clip shared by Zambrano, Philippine airmen got informed that they “are approaching a Chinese reef” and that they should leave immediately, lest they may be subject to moves “that may cause misunderstanding.”
It prompted a response from the pilot of the surveillance aircraft, who insisted to “proceed based on our planned route” because they were over the Philippine EEZ.
“You are approaching a Chinese reef. To avoid any move that may cause misunderstanding, please leave immediately.”
“This is gov’t Philippine aircraft C295. We are conducting routine maritime patrol over Philippine EEZ. We are proceeding based on our planned route.” @ABSCBNNews
— Chiara Zambrano (@chiarazambrano) March 31, 2021
It also drew reactions from Netizens imploring President Rodrigo Duterte to finally reveal which side he is on—the Filipinos or the Chinese.
Julian Felipe a Chinese Reef? It is just a distance of 175 nautical miles from Palawan.While China is 400 nautical miles away. Bakit naging kanila? Wrong mathematical equation. Duterte it’s time for you to explain to the Filipinos what have you done to the Philippine Sovereignty? https://t.co/3PtKB1u12J
— rainbow (@rainbow06406065) March 31, 2021
Netizens also called on Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin, Jr. to make another move, as he is “supposedly in Beijing now as a guest of China.”
How proactive this Chinese fishing fleet naman. They warned a PH military aircraft that it's over China waters na (even while still inside the PH EEZ).
Foreign Sec @teddyboylocsin is supoosedly in Beijing now as a guest of that govt. Do kwento what transpired pls. Salamat 🙂 https://t.co/GqrnStYGzl
— johnna giolagon (@johnnagiolagon) March 31, 2021
Netizens also called out Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xiliang for essentially lying through his teeth after claiming that the hundreds of vessels on Julian Felipe Reef were nothing more than fishing vessels.
He added that they were “hiding from rough waters” in the middle of the sea, yet satellite images in the area show no signs of rough weather in the contested waters between now and when they were first spotted back on March 7, 2021.
To date, no firm actions outside of what has transpired today made by the Philippine government.
Locsin lodged many diplomatic protests, which Beijing largely ignored based on their lack of response.
Duterte and the Department of National Defense have also insisted on a more “diplomatic approach” as they allege that the AFP does not have the firepower to go to war versus China.