By Deighton Acuin

PHOTO: Philippine Star

Malacañang said Tuesday that the administration of Former President Noynoy Aquino and the United States Government had failed to protect the Philippine resources which were damaged by China in the middle of maritime disputes.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said in a media briefing in Davao City despite the imposition of the Mutual Defense Treaty, the U.S. government did  nothing when the country lost Scarborough Shoal and the Mischief Reef, until Beijing started to construct artificial islands within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Philippines.

"Bagama't enforced po ang Mutual Defense Treaty, nawala po sa atin ang Mischief Shoal, wala pong nangyari. Pagkatapos po nawala ang Panatag, wala rin pong nangayri. Tapos gumawa rin ng artifical na isla ang mga Tsino sa lugar na kabahagi ng ating exclusive economic zone, wala rin namang ginawa ang mga Amerikano," Roque said.

Mischief Reef, or Panganiban Reef to Filipinos, is located west of Palawan. In 1995, China built an outpost on stilts on the reef and insisted that the territory belonged to them. Meanwhile, the Philippines lost Panatag or the Scarborough Shoal west of Zambales following a controversial standoff with China in 2012.

Under the Mutual Defense Treaty, the Philippines and the United States must provide military support in case of attacks from foreign forces. This treaty is strengthened by the 1998 Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

Roque noted: "Panahon na para pag-isipan kung meron ba tayong nahihita diyan sa Mutual Defense Treaty dahil at least tatlong beses nang nagkaroon na ng dahilan para sila (America) ay tulungan tayo, hindi naman nila tayo natulungan."

Duterte to seek China’s compensation

Roque also said that President Rodrigo Duterte will seek a compensation from China over its damage to natural resources and other losses occurred during disputes. However, he only went to blame the past Aquino administration for supposed “failure” to hold China’s liability.

"Ang mga ginawa ng Tsina ay nangyari po lahat iyan sa administrasyon ng panahon ni Pangulong Aquino at kung may dapat pananagutan, sana talagang gumawa na po ng hakbang ang gobyerno ni Presidente Aquino noong sila ay nakaupo pa para magkaroon ng katarungan ang ating bayan," he reasoned.

Since Duterte assumed presidential office, the country formed a “new level of friendship” with China and that stopped the aggressions, according to Roque.

China ‘not targeting’ PH

Philippine Ambassador to China Chito Sta. Romana, meanwhile, said the China is “not targeting the Philippines” under the new implementation of Chinese Coast Guard law, a law that allows its maritime guards to fire foreign vessels attempting to enter its claimed waters.

"The Chinese have reassured us through their Foreign Affairs spokesman, as well as the Chinese Embassy that they are not targeting the Philippines or any specific country and they will not resort to force in the first instance," Sta. Romana said.

In a speech last week, Duterte stressed that he can't badmouth China amid controversial issues, including the Philippines' sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea, because the country cannot afford to go to war against Beijing. He also asked the US to "pay up" if it wants to keep the VFA in place — a move which Malacañang claimed would only ensure that the country is getting a fair share of the agreement, especially amid the pandemic.