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Brace for China's action in response to WPS Christmas convoy, Tolentino says

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 5) — Senator Francis Tolentino is worried about what China would do in response to the Philippines’ Christmas convoy to Ayungin Shoal next week.

In an interview with reporters on Tuesday, Tolentino said he talked about this in a meeting with Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo and Philippine Ambassador to China Jaime FlorCruz.

“Sabi ko paghandaan na nila yung December 11… Pwedeng mas madagdagan yung ating problema,” Tolentino said.

[Translation: I told them to prepare for December 11...Because we might encounter more problems.]

Asked if he meant possible harassment from China, Tolentino said, “Baka hindi lang, ‘yun ang kinakabahan ako. (I fear that they might do something else).”

“Baka may gawin na silang iba kasi nagawa na nila lahat yung laser beam, cannoning. Ito maliliit na sibilyan na ito e. Huwag naman dapat nilang gawin yun,” he added.

[Translation: Maybe they would do something else because they already used laser beam, cannoning. This one is already is already a civilian. They should not do that.]

Tolentino, chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Philippine Maritime and Admiralty Zones, said the Philippines does not have to seek China’s permission since Ayungin Shoal is part of the West Philippine Sea.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has repeatedly summoned FlorCruz, Tolentino said, citing his conversation with the Filipino ambassador.

“Siguro tuwing may nangyayari dito na nakakarating sa kanila ay pinatatawag siya,” Tolentino said.

[Translation: I think he is always called up whenever something happens here.]

In November, Tolentino urged the Palace to temporarily recall FlorCruz following another water cannon attack by a Chinese vessel. He clarified that FlorCruz was not recalled, but simply consulted with officials in the Philippines.

Tuesday's meeting was cut short due to the magnitude 5.9 earthquake that shook parts of Luzon. Senate officials, employees, and guests had to evacuate the building in Pasay.

At least 40 boats are expected to join the three-day caravan organized by the advocacy group Atin Ito Coalition.