Victory for the country in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) issue is only considered complete once full Filipino control or ownership is established in the territory, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Thursday.
“Until such time that we get the whole WPS to ourselves, it is not a victory to me,” Lorenzana said in a statement.
The defense chief made the remark in response to criticisms over his earlier statement calling the July 12, 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which invalidated China’s claim over its “historic rights” to the WPS, an empty victory.
The ruling also said Beijing’s “Nine-Dash Line” map on the disputed territory has no legal basis.
Lorenzana, meanwhile, apologized to those who were hurt by his earlier statement.
“Yes, (I am sorry) for ruffling their feelings. No intention to hurt them. I was stating a fact that is staring us in the face. Not calling it as it is, that the PCA ruling is unenforceable, will not change the situation in the WPS,” Lorenzana added.
He also stressed that he wants Filipinos to “see the real picture as opposed to those who think that aggressively asserting our rights will work”.
“We won but it is an empty victory: the Chinese won’t leave our EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) and instead it continues to assert its historical rights over the areas within the Nine-Dash Line. Additionally, it stopped buying our bananas and pineapples, Chinese tourists dwindled to near zero, and our fishermen were barred from going to Panatag to fish,” Lorenzana earlier said.
The defense chief said he is basing his idea of victory on his long experience as a soldier when victory means getting something.
Lorenzana, a retired major general, is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1973.