The Philippines’ top leaders must come up with a united stand on the West Philippine Sea issue instead of bickering, lest it exposes a weakness that China can exploit, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said over the weekend.
Lacson also stressed China’s donation of COVID-19 vaccines should not be connected to the issue of our sovereignty and territorial integrity in the West Philippine Sea, as doing so may cause division.
“Ang irony nito at nakakalungkot, sa halip na magtulong-tulong tayong mga Pilipino, especially mga leaders, tayo pa nag-aaway-away sa usaping West Philippine Sea. Dapat iisa ang position natin. Yan ang nagpapakita ng weakness natin sa China (The sad irony is that instead of coming up with a united front, we – especially our leaders – are bickering on the issue. What we need is a united position. Otherwise, we are just showing our weakness, one that China could exploit),” Lacson, who chairs the Senate committee on national defense, said in an interview on DZXL radio.
“Dapat magsimula tayo na nagkakaisa tayo na dapat ipaglaban natin ang ating sovereignty and territorial integrity. Dapat walang kinalaman ang bakuna sa usaping territorial integrity and national sovereignty (Our stand must start with upholding our sovereignty and territorial integrity. Vaccines have nothing to do with this issue),” he added.
Isn’t it sad and ironic that the WPS issue has degenerated into a finger pointing argument between ex-Justice Carpio and PRRD and not between the Philippines and China? Hindi ka ba naiiyak Pilipinas?
— PING LACSON (@iampinglacson) April 30, 2021
Lacson said connecting the vaccine and West Philippine Sea issues will result in petty bickering among Filipinos, with some stressing the benefits of the donated vaccines from China, and others emphasizing the damage by China to our aquatic resources.
“Dapat walang kinalaman ang dalawa (Both issues should not be connected),” he said.
In the meantime, Lacson maintained the Philippines must continue to enhance its ties with allies including the United States, Japan, Australia and Europe, to maintain a balance of power in the region.
This is despite the country’s foreign policy being independent but seemingly inclined toward China, he said.
He added the US already indicated it is prepared to back the Philippines as both countries have a Mutual Defense Treaty – but added the Philippines needs to take the initiative.
“The US has indicated it is bound by our Mutual Defense Treaty but it is the Philippines that must make the initiative. The US cannot be more aggressive than we are in the disputed area,” he said.