By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday warned against Chinese firms taking over the debt-ridden Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Co.-Philippines because this would only “legitimize” China’s moves to “occupy and control” the contested areas near the facility.
Robredo noted that Hanjin’s shipyard is close to Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal, China “may take advantage of the takeover, with the possibility of its security forces continuing its activities here in the guise of using the shipbuilding company’s facility.”
“Kung titingnan natin iyong mapa, napakalapit nito sa Bajo de Masinloc. Sobrang lapit niya na kapag Chinese company iyong nag-take over dito sa Hanjin na ito, magkakaroon na ng dahilan para pasukin na tayo nang pasukin noong mga Chinese na vessels na on the guise na magpapaayos, magre-refuel, magpapahinga” (If we look at the map, this is very close to Bajo de Masinloc and if a Chinese company takes over Hanjin, they will have a reason to enter our territories on the guise of refuelling, or resting among others), she said during a recent weekly radio show, BISErbisyong LENI. “Parang ni-legitimize natin iyong pagpasok sa atin [at] napakadelikado nito,” (It’s like legitimizing their entry to our country and this is very dangerous)” she added.
Robredo also backed the Department of National Defense’s (DND) push for a government takeover of the facility noting that that the Philippine Navy may use it as a “base” to boost the country’s security efforts in the area.
Furthermore, Robredo called on the government to “look into” helping Filipino workers who are affected by the shipyard’s closure. This includes some 7,000 workers displaced after the company declared bankruptcy, and another 3,800 employees who would be laid off in 2019.
“Papaano iyong mga Pilipinong mawawalan ng trabaho? [Napakahalaga] ng mga tanong na ito, pero kailangan pag-aralan nang mabuti ang isyu dahil seguridad ng ating bansa iyong nakasalalay” (What happens then to the Filipinos who will lose their jobs? This is a very important question but we have to study this issue carefully because it involves our country’s security),” Robredo ended.