MANILA, Philippines — When the Philippines and China reportedly withdrew their ships from the lagoon of Scarborough Shoal, it was seen as a move to break a standoff between the two countries over the disputed territory.
Now, the Philippines is faced with a challenge: whether to put back its vessels in the lagoon of Scarborough Shoal after finding out the Chinese never pulled out theirs. (Read: Chinese boats return to Scarborough - DFA)
President Benigno Aquino III tackled the issue with the Cabinet Thursday, July 5, but the Palace has so far kept mum on how the discussions ended. Aquino, however, said China could be "delaying" the issue by keeping its ships in the shoal.
It was the incident involving BRP Gregorio del Pilar — the Philippines' biggest military ship — and Chinese fishing boats, as well as surveillance ships, that triggered the two-month standoff between the Philippines and China.
Tension in the South China Sea further escalated since then, with China recently establishing a prefectural-level city to govern contested territories. The Philippines has officially protested China's establishment of this city called Sansha. (Read: PH protests South China Sea 'city.') — Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.