Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has warned the Palawan provincial government to be careful in making agreements with China, including the sending of students to Hainan as scholars.
Speaking during the 11th U.S. Embassy media seminar on maritime security, Carpio said the provincial government should take all precautions in accepting scholarship grants from China to make sure students are not going to be “indoctrinated” to become part of its propaganda in claiming the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
He added that the province should also help push for the country to pass a bill that will identify sea lanes in its waters and should educate Palaweños on maritime security issues regarding the disputed region.
“Palawan should push for the archipelagic sailing passage and you should educate your own on maritime issues, about our exclusive economic zone (EEZ) because a lot of Palaweño students are being sent to China government for scholarships. You must give them a briefing before they leave because [if anything happens, it’s now only Palawan’s battle], it is our battle,” he said.
Carpio said China’s propaganda to claim the WPS started 20 years ago and are usually done by connecting with local government units (LGUs) and educational institutions.
Carpio said China has also been offering Confucius institute programs in Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) and the University of the Philippines (UP) which are supposed to promote Chinese culture and language internationally, but it earned criticisms due to fears of political influences and being used for propaganda.
“China has been offering Confucius institutes — one in Ateneo and UP, but we did not require reciprocity. In other words, China will probably put up institutes to distribute propaganda regarding the South China Sea, but we cannot distribute our own account. We should always be on guard when we deal with China, we are sending students there and they will probably be indoctrinated,” he said.
Recently, 10 Palaweño scholars were sent to China to study at Hainan Normal University (HNU).
Under the scholarship program are 10 slots offered to Palaweño students who aspire to study abroad.
The first batch was sent to Hainan in 2018 and the second left in August 2019.
Each year until 2022, 10 students will have the chance to apply to avail of the scholarship.
The next wave of screening was scheduled in January 2020.
Covered by this scholarship program are expenses for the tuition fee, accommodation and housing, medical and monthly allowances, and a round trip airfare from Palawan to the province of Hainan, China.