BROADCAST journalist and senatorial candidate Jiggy Manicad has warned election candidates against grandstanding on sensitive diplomatic issues amid territorial disputes over Scarborough shoal.
“We must avoid turning these sensitive issues towards our advantage as political candidates. Hindi ito simpleng sortie o project na pwede po nating gamitin for publicity. The dispute is an extremely sensitive issue that should not be taken lightly,” Manicad asserted.
Manicad’s statement came a day after “Otso Diretso” candidates attempted to take a boat trip to Scarborough shoal from Masinloc, Zambales for a symbolic planting of the Philippine flag.
Manicad, who is running independently for a Senate seat in the upcoming election, clarified that though candidates’ stance on China taking control of certain areas within the Philippines’ jurisdiction should be discussed, candidates should still distance themselves from activities that could risk any provocation on the issue especially when the timing is “suspicious”.
“By all means, we should talk and debate about the issue because we are Filipinos and this concerns all of us. In fact, tama po ‘yung ginawa ng ating mga colleague sa media na sinubukan nilang kunin ang pahayag ng mga mangingisda roon,” Manicad said, referring to an attempt by a Filipino TV crew to conduct interviews in Scarborough shoal for a documentary on the plight of fishermen there last year.
The crew was then barred by the Chinese Coast Guard from Scarborough.
Manicad added, “Tama rin po na nag-a-assert ng presence ang ating pamahalaan doon kasi pag-aari natin ang lugar na iyan. But if you are a candidate, and if it is the election period, then the motive and timing is suspicious.”
“Even we in the media have ethics and guidelines when it comes to conflict and territorial disputes. We will never risk any move, for example, that will provoke action from either side of the dispute,” Manicad pointed out.
“We must not use this powder keg of a situation for election purposes,” he urged.
On Monday, senatorial bets from the opposition’s “Otso Diretso” team said that they were forbidden from sailing to the disputed Scarborough shoal by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
The PCG has since denied the claim, saying that they are only monitoring the departure of fisherman in the area for their own security.