Photo from BusinessWorld Online

WHILE FORMER VICE PRESIDENT Leni Robredo and concurrent Vice President Sara Z. Duterte-Carpio, both believed to be keeping a moist eye on the 2028 presidential elections, are mysteriously silent on the bullying by China, the House of Representatives under the leadership of Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez supports the allocation of a higher defense fund in the proposed 2024 national budget after the “water cannon incident” over the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Romualdez said the congressmen see the need for an increase in the defense spending, which has gone up by over 21 percent — from P203.4 billion in the 2023 national budget into P282.7 billion in the 2024 National Expenditures Program (NEP).

For me, the House of Representatives — despite having the proverbial black sheeps like the expelled solon who was suspected to be a mastermind of a dastardly act — should still be commended in supporting the budget hike for our country’s defense.

Earlier reports said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is again planning to establish a maritime militia in the WPS, a move that had been proposed three years ago by the Philippine Navy (PN) and apparently ignored by former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

We should also be thankful to our democratic allies like Japan, Australia and the United States who were among the countries that recognized the 2016 arbitration ruling on a 2013 case filed by the Philippines. The ruling invalidated China’s nine-dash line claim over the entire South China Sea.

Last Tuesday, August 22, Philippines and Australia kicked off their joint military exercises in Palawan.

It is also expected that the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force would send its “largest destroyer” called the Izumo while the Royal Australian Navy and the US Navy would also deploy their amphibious assault ships Canberra and America, respectively.

Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros has praised Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) spokesperson Commodore Jay Tarriela for posting on X (formerly Twitter) that Filipinos who defend or make excuses for China’s aggressive behavior should be considered “unpatriotic traitors.”

“I couldn’t agree more with Commodore Tarriela. Traydor ang sinumang kumakampi sa Tsina sa panahong binabastos at inaalipusta niya ang soberanya at dignidad ng Pilipinas,” Hontiveros said.

She couldn’t help but noticed that there were “deluge of mis- and disinformation circling around social media” as soon as the PCG bares China’s “unlawful activities” to the world.

These are truly trying times and united we must stand.