Incoming Department of National Defense (DND) secretary retired general Jose Faustino Jr. (Photo: Philippine News Agency)
By Tracy Cabrera
MANILA — Noting the increasing incidents of incursions by Chinese fishing vessels and militia into Philippine territorial waters, a fishers’ group has challenged incoming Department of National Defense (DND) secretary retired general Jose Faustino Jr. to take “decisive and effective” action in defending our sovereign rights.
In a challenge to the incoming leadership, the group known as Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) asked the former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff to uphold the country’s patrimony by protecting the rights of its citizens, especially against incursions by the Chinese who continue to harass our fisher folk and exploit our marine resources.
“The incoming defense chief should take the cudgels in defense of our territorial waters against foreign aggressors, instead of focusing on an all-out war against democratic dissidents under the guise of counter-insurgency efforts,” Pamalakaya vice chair Bobby Roldan noted.
According to Roldan, for the past six years in office, the outgoing administration of President Rodrigo Duterte had the problem of being “too fixated on waging all-out war against democratic activists and civilian communities yet impotent to the actual threat against our territory.”
“Gen. Faustino could opt to continue the failing anti-insurgency war and earn the wrath of the people, or he could be efficient and maximize his control over the military to wrest back control of our territorial seas,” he opined.
The fishers’ group vice chair clarified, however, that their group was not asking for war but instead was seeking security from government, which not only has the military logistics but is mandated by the Constitution to protect Philippine sovereignty.
“We expect that the new defense chief will not be as (cowardly) as his predecessor who has been defeatist in the face of the intensified Chinese aggression in our waters,” Roldan concluded.