Leni Robredo: ‘Our position on West Philippine Sea issue must be consistent’
MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo said Thursday that the government’s stand on the West Philippine Sea issue must be consistent so the country can rally support from other nations.
She issued this remark amid fresh discussions over the recent incident in the West Philippine Sea involving yet again the China Coast Guard.
“Nakikita naman natin na kapag consistent tayo, nagba-back off naman [ang China]. Kapag consistent tayo sa posisyon natin, nakukuha natin iyong tulong at cooperation ng ibang mga bansa at ito naman iyong pinaglalaban natin from the very start,” Robredo, who has filed her candidacy for president in the May 2022 polls, said in an interview with reporters during her visit to Cavite.
(We see that if we’re consistent, China is backing off. If we’re consistent with our position, we get the support and cooperation of other countries, and this is what we have been fighting for from the very start.”)
Government authorities said the China Coast Guard on November 16 “blocked and water cannoned” Philippine boats on a resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre that is grounded at Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. The BRP Sierra Madre serves as the Philippine military’s command post in the area.
Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, who will be running as Robredo’s vice president in next year’s elections, underscored the importance of the West Philippine Sea in the country’s food security.
“Usapin din ito ng food security dahil iyong West Philippine Sea napaka-rich na source ng isda…Ito ay makakatulong talaga sa pagkain at gutom [kaya dapat] pinoprotektahan natin iyong ating exclusive economic zone at iyong fisheries, iyong mga isda diyan, at ibang resources, sa atin dapat iyan,” he said.
(“This West Philippine Sea issue is also a matter of food security. It is a rich source of fisheries…This will really help in providing food and [alleviating] hunger which is why we should protect our exclusive economic zone and fisheries and other resources there.”)
Earlier this week, President Rodrigo Duterte told a regional summit hosted by Chinese leader Xi Jinping that the country “abhors” the incident involving the China Coast Guard and the Philippine civilian vessels within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
Duterte added that “this did not speak well of the relations between the two countries.”
Robredo expressed appreciation to the Duterte administration’s latest pronouncements on the matter.
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