Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Friday took exception to claims that he is downplaying the effects of China’s new coast guard law on Filipino fishermen.
“With all due respect to the lady Senator (Risa Hontiveros), I did not downplay China’s new coast guard law. On the contrary, I even encouraged our fishermen to continue fishing within our EEZ in their traditional fishing grounds,” Lorenzana said in a statement forwarded to reporters.
The defense chief made the remarks in response to Hontiveros’ statement criticizing him for allegedly downplaying the effect of the said Chinese legislation.
Lorenzana said the military is prepared to defend Filipino fisherfolks and secure the country’s territories from encroachers.
“I would like to reiterate that the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) is always ready to defend our country. While we are in conflict with many claimants in the WPS (West Philippine Sea), I [remain as] an advocate of peace diplomacy,” Lorenzana said.
China’s new law, which took effect on February 1, authorized its Coast Guard to “take all necessary measures, including the use of weapons” when a foreign vessel or individuals infringed upon its sovereignty”.
The move is feared to result in an escalation of tension in the contested South China Sea where Manila, Beijing and several Southeast Asian states are locked in a territorial dispute. PNA.GOV.PH