Pangilinan to Duterte admin: Do ‘not stand idly by’ on South China Sea ‘militarization’
Deeply troubled by Malacañang’s “nonchalant attitude,” Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan demanded the Duterte administration on Tuesday to “not stand idly by” and instead protest China’s alleged militarization at the South China Sea.
Pangilinan, president of the Liberal Party (LP), reminded the government of its “sacred core duty” to protect its territory in behalf of its people.
“What makes a country? Aside from the recognition of its neighbors, a country is defined by its territory and the people in that territory, and its ability to defend its territory and people. Thus, it is the government’s sacred core duty to protect its territory in behalf of its people,” he said in a statement.
“That’s why we are deeply troubled that instead of expressing outrage, Malacañang displayed a nonchalant attitude in playing down China’s militarization of the entire South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.”
“It disturbs every Filipino to hear the Malacañang spokesman relying on China’s mere words that it would not reclaim new islands, thus, we can sleep soundly at night. It’s like telling Filipinos not to worry because while China constructed a building, it would only stay on the ground floor,” the senator also said.
Pangilinan noted that since 2013, China has engaged in “unprecedented and ecologically devastating dredging and island-building at all seven of the features it occupies in the Spratly Island, creating nearly 1,300 hectares of land.”
“How can we trust it to stop its aggression this time?” he asked.
On Monday, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque blamed the past administration of former President Benigno S. Aquino III for the reported reclamation in seven reefs being claimed by the Philippines in the disputed islands in the South China Sea.
Aerial photographs of the alleged militarization were obtained by Inquirer.
“If the Aquino administration was not able to do anything about these artificial islands, what [do] they want us to do? We cannot declare war — not only is it illegal, but it is also contrary—but it’s also, because it’s impossible for us to declare war at this point,” Roque said.
“As I said, this militarization, if you can call it militarization, did not happen during the Duterte administration alone. It’s been long militarized and the question is, ‘What can we do? What did the past administration do and what can we do?” he added.
But Pangilinan defended the Aquino administration.
“Because of the initiative of the last administration, the Philippines has secured an arbitral ruling favorable to us. Let’s not make this a mere paper victory by giving China an easy ride through the current administration,” he said.
“We, the people, demand that the government, at the very least, not stand idly by and instead protest these blatant violations of the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and beef up the country’s defenses in guarding what’s left of our territory,” the senator added. /kga
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