Lacson won’t back out from Pag-asa despite Chinese radio challenge

Lacson won’t back out from Pag-asa despite Chinese radio challenge

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA – “This is my country and no foreign armed forces can tell me to stay out.”

On this note, Sen. Panfilo “Ping” M. Lacson expressed his sentiment as
he took the flight to Pag-asa Island last Saturday.

“Being radio challenged by a Chinese Coast Guard vessel stationed more
than three nautical miles off the coast of Pag-asa, I never considered
backing out. Aside from the possibility of being fired at being
remote, this is my country, not theirs. They had no right. That was my
mindset,” he said on his Twitter account Sunday evening.

He said the challenge from one of the Chinese Coast Guard vessels
occurred as they were approaching the airstrip in the island.

Also, Lacson recalled that as they landed at the airstrip at Pag-asa
Island, he read a text message saying “Welcome to China,” which he
said was unusual. Only a few days earlier, Chinese Coast Guard vessels
blocked and fired water cannons at two Philippine vessels transporting
supplies to military personnel in Ayungin Shoal.

Lacson, who chairs the Senate Committee on National Defense and
Security, reiterated the need for a balance of power in the West
Philippine Sea to allow the Philippines to exercise its sovereign
rights over its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

During his visit to Pag-asa Island Saturday, Lacson led a flag-raising
ceremony and planted three Philippine flags. He also had a dialogue
with the residents and the Armed Forces of the Philippines personnel
stationed on the island to get their views on the West Philippine Sea
issue.

“Today, I planted our country’s flag with our patriotic soldiers in
Pag-asa Island, municipality of Kalayaan in the West Philippines Sea
in front of the Chinese Coast Guard ships more than 3 nautical miles
away,” Lacson said on his Twitter account late Saturday.

In a meeting with Western Command officials led by Vice Admiral Ramil
Roberto Enriquez, who belongs to Philippine Military Academy Class
1988 along with AFP Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Andres Centino, Philippine
Navy Flag Officer in Command Vice Admiral Adeluis Bordado, Philippine
Air Force Commanding General Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes, Philippine
National Police chief P/Gen. Dionardo Carlos, Philippine Coast Guard
Commandant Vice Admiral Leopoldo Laroya and other key leadership
positions in the uniformed services, Lacson suggested that they
“influence our national leadership” to go in the direction of
maintaining a balance of power through strengthened and expanded
alliances with better equipped and militarily capable countries, which
like the Philippines, espouse freedom of navigation in the West
Philippine Sea.

Lacson noted the incident last Nov. 16 is “totally unacceptable, even
pathetic, on the part of our people involved in the resupply mission
to Ayungin Shoal.” (ai/mtvn)

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