Fishers group hits ‘non-mention of nat’l sovereignty in WPS’ in Marcos’ 2nd Sona
MANILA, Philippines — Up to the very last minute, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. made no direct mention of the West Philippine Sea issue during his second State of the Nation Address at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City on Monday.
Fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) was “dismayed” by Marcos’ “non-mention of the state of our national sovereignty, particularly in the West Philippine Sea.”
During his speech, Marcos renewed the government’s promise to “protect our sovereign rights and preserve our territorial integrity in defense of a rules-based international order.”
“It is also imperative that our nation remains intact and inviolable – our sovereignty, preserved,” he said.
“With our national interests paramount, we will always pursue constant dialogue and diplomatic approaches to the resolution of any issue that may arise. So the initial results of our efforts inspire confidence. Let us continue to be relentless in our aspiration of peace and progress.”
Although Marcos made no direct reference to the fiery tensions between Manila and China in the West Philippine Sea, he reiterated the government’s position of settling issues in the contested waterway through diplomatic means.
Notably, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian was among the guests for Marcos’ Sona.
‘Duterte-brand of puppetry to China’
Pamalakaya was disappointed that Marcos failed to mention in his Sona the continued encroachment of Chinese vessels in the disputed waters, as well as “its direct impacts to the livelihood of Filipino fishers and domestic fisheries production.”
“President Marcos’ apparent silence on the issue of our national sovereignty reflects his administration’s neglect to address the sea row. We were expecting that this urgent matter that involves our national territory and integrity is at the center stage of the state of the nation,” Pamalakaya said in a statement.
The group also pointed out that Marcos’ silence on the West Philippine Sea row is “reminiscent of a Duterte-brand of puppetry to China, which the Filipino fishers will certainly abhor.”
China, PH ties under Marcos
During Marcos’ first year in office, direct communication channels between the foreign ministries of the Philippines and China were established “to avoid heightened tension in the West Philippine Sea.”
This was touted as one of the most significant outcomes during Marcos’ meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in January.
But despite this, China’s harassment of Philippine vessels within the country’s exclusive economic zone remains an alarming issue.
The Philippines, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs, has so far filed a total of 99 diplomatic protests against China under the Marcos administration.
To recall, Marcos in his first Sona vowed to “not preside over any process that will abandon even a square inch of territory of the Republic of the Philippines to any foreign power.”