ARMED Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana in a phone call disputed the headline of my column last Monday that said he “lied on new illegal structures” at Union Banks, where Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef is.
He said the headline left him seriously distressed: if he were in the Philippine Military Academy and if it was proven he lied even on a minor matter, he would be immediately dismissed.
What he said, he claimed, was that a Philippine Air Force patrol had “documented manmade structures that were built on some of the features” but didn’t say these were new or when they were built. These structures are illegal, Sobejana said.
I won’t waste my time explaining why most media, including myself, were prodded to report his discovery as new illegal structures. Suffice it to say that even the US-based high-tech firm Simularity Corp. — ironically, the firm whose photos first disclosed the presence of 200 fishing vessels at Julian Felipe — spent thousands of dollars securing satellite photos from two different agencies to verify or confirm whether there were indeed new structures.
Simularity of course didn’t find any: the Vietnamese and Chinese structures were built mostly in 2013, the colossal blowback to the Yellow regime’s filing of its arbitration suit against China. Beijing in effect told the Philippines: “You’re accusing us that our reefs should be vacated since they are mere uninhabitable rocks? Fine, we’ll transform them into islands.”(more…)