“The conduct of maritime patrol in the WPS and Kalayaan Island Group by the Philippine Coast Guard and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources will continue. The government will not waver in its position. Walang alisan,” National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a statement released May 2.
The national defense chief also noted that his pronouncements echo the stand of the Commander-in-Chief President Rodrigo Duterte.
“President Duterte’s orders to us have been very firm and straightforward: defend what is rightfully ours without going to war and maintain the peace in the seas. Yung nagsasabi na hindi kami align ng Presidente, let me clarify that my pronouncements echo the stand of our President and Commander in Chief,” Secretary Lorenzana said.
“As for our long standing and multi-faceted relationship with China, we maintain cooperation in various areas that are mutually beneficial to our peoples. We can be cordial and cooperative with other nations but not at the expense of our sovereignty and sovereign rights,” he added.
Lorenzana also said that “while we acknowledge that China’s military capability is more advanced than ours, this does not deter us from defending our national interest, and our dignity as a people, with all that we have.”
“Latest developments make it clear that there is a need for all stakeholders to cooperate. They can now take this as an opportunity to advance the values and principles we collectively affirm and profess to respect – including the peaceful settlement of disputes – as partners and as signatories to UNCLOS and all relevant international instruments,” the defense chief noted.