Senator Ralph Recto is urging President Rodrigo Duterte to take advantage of his warm personal relationship with leaders of China to urge them to stop militarizing the West Philippine Sea.
“The President should leverage his warm personal relationship with Chinese leaders in convincing them to cease-and-desist from militarizing the illegally-reclaimed islands in the West Philippine Sea,” Recto said in statement.
He added that President Duterte has to encash whatever political capital he has with Beijing in asking it to honor its pledge to keep the West Philippine Sea a zone of peace and freedom of navigation.
“The President can also serve as a peacemaker in asking all major powers to de-escalate tension in the area, prevent it from being a flashpoint, as our country will never benefit from any brawl that might break out right in our own backyard,” he added.
Recto noted that as positive steps are underway to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, the same must prevail in the WPS.
“We cannot defuse tension in one place in Asia only to heighten it in another,” he said. “China has justified its incursion by saying that the facilities will be primarily used to combat piracy and assist distressed seafarers, among other peaceful uses.”
“But the reported installation of weapons in these islands seems to give credence to the global suspicion that its real aim was to build a string of military fortresses over the sovereignty claims of its peaceful neighbor,” Recto said.