Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, who is running for senator, slammed China’s deployment of surface-to-air missile systems to Woody Island in the disputed territory in the West Philippine Sea calling the move as an “act of war.”

“China’s actions are further aggravating the tension in the region and they should stop it. Even though the surface to air missile launchers they deployed are on Woody Island, which is part of the Paracels claimed by Vietnam, if left unquestioned China may deploy missiles in the Philippines’ territory,” the Left-wing lawmaker said.

He called on the international community to “de-escalate tensions” especially among claimants of West Philippine Sea.

Colmenares asserted support for Vietnam saying “We are one with the Vietnamese people in this fight and a threat to them is a threat to the Philippines.”

Colmenares also expressed concerns about the U.S. stand on the issue, saying that the Americans merely want to pursue their own interest in the area.

“As long as the interest of the US is satisfied, it will just mouth motherhood statements on defending the Philippines but will not act at to counter China. What we need now is to stand on our own and broaden our ranks here and abroad through a broad alliance to protect Philippine interests against China’s aggressive actions,” he said.

“China has already reclaimed at least 7 of our reefs such as the Panganiban (Mischief), Mabini (Johnson South), Gavin (Gaven), Calderon (Cuarteron), Hughes (Kennan), Malvar (Eldad) and Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reefs, that are clearly within Philippine territory and exclusive economic zone but hardly anything has been done to address it,” said Colmenares.

He is hoping that the arbitral tribunal in The Hague will decide immediately on the case filed by the Philippines against China.

The Philippines is expecting the final ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in its case against China by May this year. -Ram Arciga