WPS will be key issue in 2022 elections – Biazon
MANILA, Philippines — Filipino voters should consider the West Philippine Sea (WPS) dispute a “high-priority issue” in the 2022 presidential elections and politicians should go beyond generalities and present a credible plan to protect national interests.
“The West Philippine Sea issue should take a high priority as presidential candidates file their certificates of candidacy in five months’ time” Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon said after President Duterte backed out of his challenge to debate with retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.
Biazon said the maritime disputes in the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea, will be an important part of the rivalry between China and the United States in the coming years and the Philippines should have a plan to protect its national interests.
“Motherhood statements don’t count for anything when literally the future of the next generation of Filipinos is at stake,” Biazon said in a statement, stressing that “the repercussions to national security go beyond the six-year term of an administration.”
Biazon made the remarks as Filipinos questioned the campaign promises Mr. Duterte made when he ran for president in 2016 and his recent statements belittling the favorable ruling the Philippines received from an international arbitral court.
But the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) tried to shield the President from further criticism and said that Mr. Duterte declared before the United Nations in September that the Philippines rejected attempts to undermine the arbitral ruling.
That arbitral ruling, according to veteran diplomat Elizabeth Buensuceso, is “now part of international law, beyond compromise and beyond the reach of passing governments to dilute, diminish or abandon.”Buensuceso, an undersecretary of the foreign office, said at the 34th dialogue between the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the United States that the DFA would continue to reject attempts to undermine the arbitral awards.
But the DFA statement did not diminish public criticism of the Duterte administration’s foreign policy pronouncements and focused their social media debate on the administration’s supposed gaffes.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Malacañang’s attempts to control the damage done by the President’s challenge to debate Carpio was resulting in more damage to the country.
“Anything that is meant to be damage control, if done excessively and it becomes obvious that it’s damage control, that can cause more damage. It would be best for Malacañang to just stay quiet and not stir more side issues,” Lacson said on Saturday.
Lacson said he was dismayed at the tack presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. took in trying to explain why the President backed out of the debate challenge that he himself initiated.
“He should just have kept quiet afterward,” he said in a radio interview.
“The issue has been settled. He issued the challenge, his bluff was called, but it did not materialize. It should have stopped there because it is causing more damage,” he said.
Malacañang will now have to contend with another boo-boo, Lacson said, as #DuterteDuwag (Duterte coward) trended on social media, hours after Roque announced the President’s decision to back out.
—WITH REPORTS FROM MARLON RAMOS AND MELVIN GASCON
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