De Lima: Rehabilitate AFP or be a ‘satellite’ to China
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Leila de Lima said Thursday that after President Rodrigo Duterte ends his term in 2022, the country must “rehabilitate” the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
While De Lima hopes the AFP can regain its “shaky loyalty” to the country, the damage its commander Duterte has caused remains reversible, with no other choice but to rehabilitate the military’s general staff.
“Because our country has only one AFP who will defend us against China,” explained de Lima.
“Either that, or we start accepting our fate in this region as just another one of China’s satellites after Laos and Cambodia,” she added.
According to De Lima, the AFP Western Command’s (WesCom) leniency toward the Chinese militias on the Julian Felipe Reef in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) is attributable to Duterte’s “policy of subservience” to China.
On Tuesday, the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea reported that around 240 Chinese militia vessels were still inside Philippine territorial waters.
This is contrary to WesCom’s report that only 28 Chinese vessels — most of which are fishing boats — remain in the WPS.
While everyone except Duterte admonishes China against overreaching in confronting the US and the Philippines, De Lima said, “the AFP still thinks it is worth it to continue to support Duterte’s policy of groveling before China.”
“This is how confused this government and its AFP is when it comes to China,” said de Lima
“Not even the presence of an American carrier force right at China’s doorstep sending signals for China to stand down has consolidated the AFP’s resolve to defend the country and for once, just for once, have the balls to stand up to China,” she added.
The senator was referring to the US Navy’s Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, which entered on April 4 in the South China Sea following its “freedom of navigation” operations.
The country’s envoy to the US, Ambassador Jose Romualdez, said that more US vessels are expected to arrive in the disputed waters.
“The fact is China remains alone in the world, as every western ally, from India to Europe and Australia, Japan and South Korea are sending ships to the South China Sea to send a message to China,” said Leile de Lima
“And that message is simply this: they will not allow China to invade Taiwan or take control of the South China Sea. That simply will never happen,” she added.
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