Youth councilor Myka Mabelle Magbanua sought to stop the City Council from issuing a resolution requesting a sea ambulance from the People’s Republic of China, citing her opposition to Beijing’s posturing in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
At Monday’s regular session of the city legislature, Magbanua traded arguments with other Councilors, pointing out that issuing such a resolution will send a wrong message to the public about the city’s position towards China’s aggressive behavior in the disputed WPS.
“Katatapos lang ng second anniversary ng ating pagkapanalo sa international arbitration court tungkol sa WPS territorial dispute. Kumbaga sa gitgitan sa daan, tayo na nga ang binulabog ay tayo pa ang magre-request,” she told Palawan News.
Other city councilors, however, pressed for the passage of the resolution, stating it was needed to facilitate a commitment already made by the Chinese ambassador to the city government during a recent dialogue with officials of the City Tourism Office.
“The City Tourism had a dialogue with the Chinese Embassy and the Department of Health (DOH), and the Chinese Ambassador expressed their willingness to donate the sea ambulance, provided that the city council will pass a resolution to that effect,” Councilor Jimmy Carbonnel, who sponsored the resolution, explained.
“The sea ambulance is only for use during typhoons, but even in ordinary situations wherein it is needed and for some tourists who will need the services of sea ambulance. Through this, the patients will be transported to the hospital faster,” he added.
Councilor Rolando Amurao said there was nothing wrong in making a request to the Chinese government, stating that it had already provided other assistance to the country, including the donation of firearms for use by the country’s law enforcers.
“This is only a sea ambulance compared to the firearms, I do not see any problem because this is the only requirements they requested from us,” Amurao said.
The matter was resolved with the Council agreeing to rephrase the text of the resolution by pointing out that the sea ambulance was “offered” by China to the city government and not directly requested by the local government.
“Ok na rin tayo doon kasi para naman ito sa atin. Wala naman tayong problema kasi ito ay bigay na in kind ng Chinese government at meron namang ginawang amendments doon sa resolution, at na-highlight naman doon na ito ay offer ng government of China,” Magbanua said.
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