Mighty Manila Juggles Guardian And China

26 Jan

Guardian on the reefCould it be a metaphor for the U.S. in Asia? In case you were curious, this is how the U.S. pries warships from reefs.

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said Task Force Tubbataha was working closely with the US Navy and SMIT Singapore Pte Ltd, which are both sending several vessels to help in the delicate operation.

The removal of the ship, however, is not expected to be done until Jan. 30, when all vessels involved in the operation are scheduled to arrive at the site.

“Part of the salvage plan is to use a crane with high lifting capacity for the vertical removal of the stranded ship instead of just dragging it to avoid incurring more damage to the reef,” Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio “Jun” Abaya said in a statement.

The DOTC said the US Navy would send a salvage vessel, the USNS Salvor, to the Sulu Sea on Saturday to aid in the removal.

SMIT Singapore, the company hired by the US Navy to lead to operation, would send SMIT Cyclone and SMIT Borneo. Both vessels are expected to arrive on Jan. 30.

In an equally pathetic gesture, Manila is taking China to court over its “illegal and invalid” tactics in the South China Sea.

The Philippines hopes that arbitration through a tribunal operating under the 1982 United Nations convention on the law of the sea would lead to a decision that would direct China to respect its claims. But even if a tribunal ruled against China, Beijing could choose to simply ignore the ruling.

Del Rosario said the Philippines made the move after previous diplomatic efforts to resolve the territorial rifts failed.

“The Philippines has exhausted almost all political and diplomatic avenues for a peaceful negotiated settlement of its maritime disputes with China,” he said. He added the Philippine government hoped that its legal move would “bring this dispute to a durable solution”.

“We are all for improving our economic relations with China but it should not be at the expense of surrendering our national sovereignty,” he said.

The Chinese foreign ministry in Beijing did not immediately comment, asking that questions be submitted by fax.

It’s not a pretty picture. But, props to Manila for trying.

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