“We must come up with a strategic framework to address China’s continued aggression in the West Philippine Sea”. This was the statement of Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday as she urged Malacañang to heed top government and military officials’ call for ‘political will’ against China’s continued disregard of the Philippines’ claims over the region.
“The ‘political will’ against China’s adventurism should come from the very top,” Hontiveros remarked after top government and military officials lashed back against China’s ‘provocations’ and after the Department of Foreign Affairs’ diplomatic protest over the Chinese Coast Guard’s illegal confiscation of Filipino fisherfolks’ devices in Bajo de Masinloc in May.
“I sympathize with our government and military officials who are looking to the top for leadership, policy, and conduct to address China’s continued violations of our sovereignty”, Hontiveros said. “The President himself must speak out and lay down the government’s plan in protecting our territories and exclusive economic zones from China’s adventurism,” she added.
“We can no longer be reactive. We need to be proactive in defending our territory. Hindi tayo inutil,” she also said.
Diplomatic, Military and Interagancy Response
Hontiveros suggested that there should be a diplomatic, military, and interagency collaboration among the Department of National Defense, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Department of Agriculture in order to immediately create a framework and an official policy that must safeguard our marine resources, territories, and people.
“Since the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague’s ruling in our favor back in 2016, the Executive has failed to craft and implement a clear diplomatic and military strategic framework to assert our exclusive sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea in the face of continued disrespect by China,” she added.
“The protection of our natural resources and our fisherfolks must be a priority for the government. Our fisherfolks’ livelihood and safety are being threatened. We are also losing at least 33 billion pesos yearly due to China’s damage to our reef ecosystems,” Hontiveros explained.
Hontiveros previously urged the government to demand from China at least ?200 billion in reparation for the damage incurred to reef ecosystems in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. The senator said that the money can be used to fund the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Magsimula ang Pangulo sa pagsingil sa Tsina at sa pagbibigay direksyon sa ating mga ahensiya, mga diplomat, at militar kung paano solusyonan ang patuloy na pagbastos ng Tsina sa ating batas, teritoryo, at higit sa lahat, sa mga Pilipino,” Hontiveros concluded. SENATE.GOV.PH