Lacson Pushes Consistent Assertiveness from PH vs China on WPS

Lacson Pushes Consistent Assertiveness from PH vs China on WPS

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — We should be more assertive – and consistent (against China)

  • in making our stand on the West Philippine Sea.

On this note, Sen. Panfilo “Ping” M. Lacson pushed Tuesday for a more
authoritative stand by the Philippines on its sovereignty and
sovereign rights in the area – especially at this time of awakening by
other nations on the issue.

“We should be more assertive. Di ba dati napaka-accommodating natin
(Were we not too accommodating before)? We are already being bullied
because we don’t do too much,” he said in an interview on CNN

“It’s only now na nagkaroon ng (that we see an) awakening not only on
the part of our leaders but other countries as well,” he added,
referring to the statements of concern from other countries especially
about the Nov. 16 incident where Chinese vessels blocked and
water-cannoned two Philippine vessels bringing supplies to Ayungin

Also, Lacson said President Rodrigo Duterte’s “strong statement” on
the issue should be followed up by consistent actions.

“No matter how late, it’s still good the President issued that strong
statement to awaken not just China but other stronger allies. I hope
it continues. And I hope the President remains consistent in asserting
our sovereignty and sovereign rights over our exclusive economic
zone,” he said.

On the other hand, Lacson reiterated the need to maintain a balance of
power in the region and seek stronger alliances with other nations.

He also said the time is right to revisit the Mutual Defense Treaty
with the US, now that its joint vision statement with the Philippines
has specific references to the West Philippine Sea and not just the
Asia-Pacific region.

He added the US’ readiness to enhance facilities in the Philippines is
sending a clear message to China, that the West Philippine Sea is not
their domain.

Also, Lacson questioned the reported “request” by China to Defense
Secretary Delfin Lorenzana not to deploy escorts to Philippine vessels
bringing supplies to Ayungin Shoal.

“If I were Sec. Lorenzana, I would do what I think would be in the
best interest of our troops. I think it is within our rights to
assert, tayo mag-decide kung kailangan may escort o wala (we should be
the ones to decide if we will send escorts or not),” he said.

Lacson, who chairs the Senate Defense Committee, went to Pagasa Island
in the Kalayaan Group of Islands in the WPS last Nov. 20. During his
flight there, he encountered firsthand the challenge by Chinese
authorities to the pilots of the aircraft he was riding. He also saw a
text message upon arrival claiming “Welcome to China.”

“No way. We should not accept that. It was totally unacceptable,” he
said of the challenge, adding he felt “more anger than fear” when
hearing the challenge. (ai/mtvn)

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