Published On: Wed, Aug 28th, 2019

China panic: Philippines mulls national service – ‘When China attacks us, who will fight?’ | World | News

A senator close to President Rodrigo Duterte said the country needed compulsory military training to defend against a potential Chinese invasion. Ronald dela Rosa, a former National Police chief who spearheaded the early stages of Mr Duterte’s brutal war on drugs, clashed with student leaders who oppose a proposed bill forcing all students to take complete the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) programme.

He said: “You love your country? When China attacks us, whom will you get to fight those Chinese? NPA? You will go to the NPA?”

The NPA is the New People’s Army – the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Mr Duturte came out in support of mandatory military training when he was campaigning for the presidency in 2016 and when he said it would “augment Philippine forces to repel Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea”.

Aides later said he was “joking” and the idea was dropped after Mr Duterte moved to strengthen his country’s ties with China.

But despite the President’s bid to keep Beijing onside there is a growing sense of resentment against China’s attempts stamp its military authority on a volatile region which remains at the centre of several sovereignty claims.

Mr Duterte, who flew to Beijing for talks today, is coming under increasing pressure from Manila’s powerful defence establishment, which has lashed out at China’s maritime expansionism and aggression in Philippine waters.

JUST IN: South China Sea: Beijing accuses Washington of ‘malicious’ acts

Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana accused China of “bullying” the Philippines and along with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has repeatedly criticised China’s occupation of Scarborough Shoal, harassment of Filipino fishermen and deployment of militia forces to swarm Philippine-held islands.

The AFP, along with the Filipino defence chief, has also accused China of “deception” and “violation of the rule of law” by deploying warships to Philippine territorial sea without notifying the Philippine authorities.

The South China Sea has been the centre of an ongoing political and military struggle between Beijing and Washington.

He claimed the solution was sinking two US Navy aircraft carriers to see off the US presence.

In a fiery speech on the state of Sino-US relations earlier this year, he claimed that the South China Sea was a “prime strategic issue” for Beijing and they should not back down.

Washington flexed their military muscle in the South China Sea last month when they sent nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan to the Philippines.

Philippine trust in China plummeted in a recent poll, reflecting the strained relations between the two following the presence of Beijing’s warships on disputed islands.

Hundreds of Chinese ships passed near the disputed Spratly Islands last year, while one sunk a Philippine fishing boat in June by ramming barging it.

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