Assert arbitration ruling on West PH Sea now, LP tells gov’t
The Liberal Party (LP) is demanding the Duterte administration to now firmly assert the nation’s rightful claims on the West Philippine Sea amid fresh reports that two planes of China landed on the reef already ruled to belong to the Philippines.
The opposition group criticized anew the government’s seeming inaction on the country’s territorial claims in the disputed area despite the victory that the government already obtained from the Permanent Court of Arbitration under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Senator Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV said the Duterte administration should be transparent in its dealings with China to know what else the country is giving up to its “new friendship” with Beijing.
“Hindi ba dapat ipaglaban ang ating teritoryo, lalo na para sa mga mangingisda natin? Sinayang lang ng administrasyon ang panalo natin sa Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA),” Aquino said, referring to the PCA decision in July 2016, which ruled that the Philippines has exclusive sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea (in the South China Sea) that included the Panganiban Reef or Mischief Reef, among others.
(Shouldn’t we defend our territory, especially for our fishermen? The administration just put to waste our victory at the PCA.)
According to Aquino, if the government is determined and sincere in protecting the country’s territory, then it should assert the country’s victory in the PCA.
On Wednesday, the Inquirer came out with a story and photo, indicating two Chinese military transport planes have landed on Panganiban Reef, marking the first reported presence of this type of aircraft of China in a Philippine territory in the South China Sea, and raising the prospect that Beijing might soon base their warplanes there.
LP President Senator Francis Pangilinan said the Philippine government’s obliging attitude and behavior toward China amid the escalating militarization of the West Philippine Sea is unacceptable.
“Nagiging barangay na ba ng China ang Pilipinas?” he asked.
(Is the Philippines now becoming a village of China?)
Pangilinan also pointed out that sovereignty and security issues should have been discussed during President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent visit to China.
Former lawmaker Erin Tañada, LP’s vice president for external affairs, said that if Duterte cannot fulfill his campaign promise to ride a jet ski and plant a Philippine flag in the disputed territory, he must at least fight for it through the PCA decision.
“Ipakita sana ni Duterte ang tapang na ipinakita niya noong kampanya, laban sa China at hindi ang pagtikum-bibig habang nilalabag ang ating kasarinlan,” Tañada said.
(Hopefully Duterte shows the courage against China he showed during the campaign and not become tight-lipped while our sovereignty is being trampled upon.)
Tañada said that the presence of Chinese military transport planes on Panganiban Reef is another intrusion in our sovereign territory and that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) explain the issue.
“Are Philippine authorities aware of this? Are these passages or landing allowed? What is China bringing next after these transport planes — war planes?” he said. /kga
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