MANILA – The Philippines is sparing no effort in undertaking diplomatic actions against unlawful activities and other forms of incursions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), the country’s top security adviser said.
“Nakatutok din ang gobyerno sa mga kaganapan sa West Philippine Sea. Sa nakaraang limang taon, ang NTF (National Task Force)-WPS ay nagpupulong linggu-linggo upang patuloy ang pagmamatyag at pagtuunan ang mga usaping kaugnay sa West Philippine Sea (The government continues to be focused on the West Philippines. For the past five years, NTF-WPS is continuing with its weekly meetings to monitor and focus on all issues on the WPS),” said National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., who is also chairperson of the NTF-WPS during his visit to the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) Mimaropa in Puerto Princesa, Palawan last November 4.
He said this is part of the government’s whole-of-nation approach on the issue.
“We have a harmonized, coordinated, and joint deployment of maritime assets from the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), Philippine Coast Guard, PNP (Philippine National Police) Maritime Group, BFAR (Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources) aimed at sustaining our presence,” Esperon said.
Esperon, quoting President Rodrigo Duterte during his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) in 2019, said “our national honor and territorial integrity shall be foremost in our mind. The West Philippine Sea is ours. There are no ifs and buts. It is ours.”
Also at the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly last September 22, Duterte also said “the Philippines affirms that commitment in the South China Sea in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and 2016 Arbitral Award.”
“That award is now part of International Law, beyond compromise and beyond the reach of passing governments to dilute, diminish, or abandon. We firmly reject attempts to undermine it,” the President added. (PNA)