First to visit Pag-Asa Island, Eleazar plants Philippine flag on its shore

First to visit Pag-Asa Island, Eleazar plants Philippine flag on its shore

By Tracy Cabrera

Former PNP chief and Partido Reporma senatorial bet Guillermo Eleazar holds one of two Philippine flags he planted on the shore of Pag-Asa Island. (Photo courtesy of General Eleazar’s Media Friends)

KALAYAAN, PAG-ASA ISLAND — Amidst the latest tension in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) that saw Philippine vessels cruising near the Ayungin Shoal were water-cannoned by Chinese militia boats, retired Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar conducted a visit with Partido Reporma standard-bearer Senator Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson on remote Pag-Asa Island where local fishermen have been bullied and harassed by China’s coast guard in recent months.

Eleazar echoed the commitment of the Partido Reporma presidential candidate, saying that their visit to the area would send a strong message to Beijing about the Philippine government’s determination to protect its territories and assert its sovereignty by showing unity with the fisherfolk who has lately been seriously affected by Chinese activities in the region.

Both candidates were accompanied by other officials of Partido Reporma as well as a number of military and police officials assigned in the area who had a discussion with Lacson and Eleazar about territorial issues in the resource-rich region while making consultations with residents in the island in order to have a clear picture of what is the real situation amidst the continuous incursions of the Chinese inside the country’s territorial waters, particularly its exclusive economic zones (EEZs).

Eleazar underscored the need for every Filipino to assert the country’s sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea amid escalating tension in the area caused by the continuing entry of Chinese fishing boats as well as patrol vessels of China’s Coast Guard and warships and aircraft of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

“Our stand to assert our sovereignty does not necessarily translate to war like what other people think. We already won the case and we will support any move for dialogues and to seek the support of the international community, particularly our allies, in ensuring both the freedom of navigation and bring back the normalcy on our traditional fishing rights,” the country’s former top cop and senatorial aspirant pointed out.

“Walang ibang hangad ang ating mga kababayan kung hindi maibalik sa normal na malaya silang makakapangisda. Ito ang ating isusulong dahil ang kabuhayan na nila ang pinag-uusapan dito,” he added.

It may be recalled that during his stewardship of the PNP, Eleazar had pushed for the active involvement of the PNP’s Maritime Group in the monitoring and patrol operations in the WPS along with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and personnel from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

“Hindi naman puwede na habambuhay tayong mabu-bully at makikipagpatintero sa sarili nating teritoryo, kaya mahalaga na mapalakas ang pakikipag-ugnayan natin sa ating mga ka-alyadong bansa upang maipag-laban natin ang pagbabalik sa normal sa West Philppine Sea,” he noted in conclusion. (ai/mtvn)

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