Locsin sails through Commission on Appointments
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Wednesday sailed through the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA) after assuring lawmakers the Philippines would not give up an inch of what it owns in the West Philippine Sea and that he would take other means to assert this other than filing notes verbale.
At his confirmation hearing, Locsin said he would seek tighter coordination between the Philippine and Chinese coast guards to prevent the escalation of conflict in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal.
He also said the Philippines could work with China in areas of mutual advantage despite its differences with its giant neighbor.
There was no objection to the confirmation of Locsin, who was showered with praise and even touted as a possible future President during the plenary session of the appointments body.
Malacañang welcomed Locsin’s confirmation.
“Secretary Locsin would be able to lead the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) in supporting the President chart an independent foreign policy course while proactively looking after the welfare, protection and well-being of millions of overseas Filipio workers around the world,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
During the CA panel hearing, Locsin said the Philippines would pursue an independent policy, which to him meant standing up for the country instead of just switching masters.
He recalled that when he first met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, he told him that the Philippines would not waive any of its rights in the West Philippine Sea.
“We do not waive a single inch of what is given to us in the arbitral award, in the international law, the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) to which the United States refuses to subscribe,” he said.
Working with China
He also said the invocation of the freedom of navigation doctrine in disputed waters was not enough and that the United States should do more.
Locsin said the consensus in the region was to live with what was there. Despite the differences with China, he said, the Philippines could work with it on matters of mutual interest.
“I told Wang Yi … the differences will be there, but nothing stops us from going around those differences to cooperate in areas of our mutual advantage,” he said.
But Locsin does not believe in filing notes verbale or protests against China’s questionable actions.
“I said filing notes verbale is basically throwing pieces of paper at a brick wall, essentially the Great Wall of China,” he said.
China’s indifference to these shows that it has possession of the disputed waters, he added.
Locsin said what he did when he was the country’s representative to the United Nations was to talk to China directly.
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