Former Secretary del Rosario urges Filipinos to speak on WPS issue

Former Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario, in an open letter title “On the South China Sea: Let us help our President”, suggested to all Filipinos to ask President Rodrigo Duterte to be more proactive and assertive in defending the West Philippine Sea.

“The President believes, however, that those of us who endeavor to speak in the spirit of being helpful are not prepared to sacrifice ourselves,” former Secretary del Rosario said. “It truly behooves us then to ask our leadership to have more confidence in our people.”

“To support our President, to secure our nation and to ensure the future of all Filipinos, it must be believed that indeed there are those of us who are prepared to make the supreme sacrifice for our country, especially when called upon,” he said.

“Our government needs to listen to its people. Our northern neighbor needs to listen to the Filipino people. And finally, all our traditional partners and friends – who are waiting for a united voice – need to hear from us,” he said.

The statement from del Rosario was made after China announced that it landed and launched H-6k bomber aircraft in a facility in South China Sea.

“Is it high time for our government to assert our rightful position by utilizing the experience and diplomatic expertise of our Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)? If we believe this, let us say so,” he said.

“Is it, moreover, high time for our government to assert our rightful position by relying on the skill, courage, and patriotism of our Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), which is capable of developing a credible minimum defense posture against any bully or aggressor, whoever that might be? If we believe this, let us say so,” he added. “Should we then undertake to stand more firmly in defending what is ours thereby, upholding the future security of all our people? If we believe this, let us say so.”

The DFA said on May 21 that it is closely monitoring developments in the West Philippine Sea and the South China Sea in close coordination with the other relevant departments and agencies.

“We are taking the appropriate diplomatic action necessary to protect our claims and will continue to do so in the future,” DFA said. “We reiterate our commitment to protect every single inch of our territory and areas which we have sovereign rights over.”

“The country has gained much under the Duterte Administration. Fighting for our rights under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and under our present stategy, we intend to achieve much more, including, but not limited to, an effective comprehensive Code of Conduct that will promote peace, cooperation, and stability in the West Philippine Sea and the South China Sea. Moving forward, we are taking a different approach to avoid any drawbacks and challenges,” DFA said.