MANILA – National interest and welfare of all Filipinos are the utmost priorities of President Rodrigo Duterte when it comes to the West Philippine Sea (WPS) issue, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go assured.
As the chief architect of the country’s foreign policy, the President needs to continue working with international partners in addressing the ongoing pandemic while also securing the country’s interest in the WPS, Go said during ambush interviews after attending the launch of the 104th Malasakit Center at the Leyte Provincial Hospital and the 105th at the Schistosomiasis Control and Research Hospital, both in Palo town, on April 30, 2021.
“Knowing the President for the longest time, always interest of each and every Filipino ang parating nasa isipan ng mahal na Pangulo. Binabalanse n’ya lahat (are on his mind. He balances all issues),” Go said in a news release.
“Ibig sabihin ni Pangulong Duterte, isulong ang dapat isulong, ipaglaban ang dapat ipaglaban, isantabi muna ang dapat isantabi…nasa gitna pa tayo ng pandemya at kailangan natin magtulungan sa isa’t isa (What President Duterte wants to emphasize is we will fight for what is right and set aside what needs to be set aside. We are in the middle of a pandemic and we must help each other out),” he added.
Go said he is confident in the President’s judgment.
“I’m sure, the President po, alam n’ya ang ginagawa n’ya at ipaglalaban n’ya po kung ano ang atin, kung ano ang napalunan natin, atin ‘yun (The President knows what he’s doing and he will fight for what is ours, for what he have won),” he said.
‘A good friend’
Duterte, during his Talk to the People address on Wednesday night, said that the country would not go to war against China as the latter is a “good friend”.
He also asserted that Filipino presence will remain in the WPS despite the demands of China.
Go also asserted that it is in the interest of all parties concerned to uphold the peaceful settlement of disputes, consistent with international law and relevant treaty obligations, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Responding to their criticisms on the government’s handling of the WPS dispute, Go challenged retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and former Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario to patrol the sea themselves and face the Chinese coast guard.
“Kung talagang sila ang matapang, dapat noon pa hindi na nila pinabayaan… Ngayon, nagmamatapang sila, puro sila bunganga. Ano ang magagawa ng bunganga mo? Punta ka doon (If they are really that brave, they should have done it before. Now, they’re all talk. What can words do? They should go there [WPS]),” he challenged.
Go said bickering will not undo the criminal neglect committed by the previous administration which resulted in China’s militarization of the WPS.
“Panahon pa po ng previous administration, hinayaan po nila… Hinayaan nilang makapag-(military) buildup po ang bansang China. So, ngayon ‘di mo na masira dahil hinayaan po nila (The previous administration allowed this to happen They allowed a military buildup by China. Now, it can no longer be undone),” he said.
In an earlier statement last week, Go agreed with and supported the President’s position of ordering vessels not to leave the West Philippine Sea.
“Our vessels have every right to be in the West Philippine Sea, especially those areas under our Exclusive Economic Zone,” he said.
“Bilang isang mambabatas, hangad ko na sana lahat ng anumang hindi pagkakaintindihan sa West Philippine Sea ay naidadaan sa maayos at diplomatikong usapan. Mahalaga ang papel ng diplomasya rito at importanteng bukas po tayo sa maayos at tapat na pag-uusap sa ibang bansa (As a lawmaker, it is my wish that whatever misunderstandings there are regarding the West Philippine Sea will be fixed though diplomatic means. Diplomacy plays a vital role here and it is important that we are open to a dialogue),” he added.
Go emphasized that both sides should continue to demonstrate their commitments to the peaceful settlement of disputes, consistent with international obligations and duties as responsible members of the international community.
He added that moves to address concerns on the WPS and the government’s efforts to address the Covid-19 pandemic are distinguishable issues.
“At habang ang buong mundo ay nagnanais na malampasan ang kasalukuyang pandemya, mas mainam na ang mga bansa ay patuloy na nagtutulungan upang puksain ang Covid-19… Katulad ng mga Pilipino, kailangan ng mga bansa ngayon ang magbayanihan upang madaling malampasan ang krisis bilang isang nagkakaisang sangkatauhan (As the world tries to overcome the pandemic, we are also trying to beat Covid-19. Like what we Filipinos are doing, all countries need to unite to overcome this crisis),” he said. (PR)