The Philippines’ Commander-in-Chief cannot afford to send the wrong message – especially implied surrender or resignation – on our territorial disputes with China in the West Philippine Sea, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said Tuesday.
Lacson said this after President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday night that the Philippines may risk bloodshed and a no-win situation if it asserts its jurisdiction.
“He’s the leader of our country and he’s the commander-in-chief of our armed forces. He can think of anything and speak about anything except surrender. Remember, we have an arbitral ruling in our favor and it’s permanent although it’s unenforceable. There are so many things to think about except surrender. We cannot wave the white flag, so to speak,” Lacson said in an interview on CNN Philippines.
“I am not saying the President is actually raising the white flag but that’s the implication. If the officers and men of the AFP would take it that way, it could be disastrous to Philippine sovereignty,” he added.
Diplomatic protests may not be too helpful anymore as China continues to ignore the same. Further, while it is a standard document used to call the attention of the other party, China’s consistent attitude of taking for granted such action taken by the DFA reduces it to a mere point of information.
That said, perhaps China would not be so dismissive if we and our allies, both in the Asia-Pacific and the west, show we can band together to maintain a balance of power in the region, including the West Philippine Sea.
Filipinos should stand foursquare behind DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana for making known his strong position in defending our country’s sovereign rights over the Whitsun Reef (Julian Felipe Reef) – and before that, the Mischief Reef, occupied by the Chinese during the period 1994-1995 and the Scarborough Shoal, which China cordoned off in 2012. All these have legal basis under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the existing arbitral ruling in our favor.
A sad reality is that while the ruling is permanent, it is unenforceable. The situation is made worse when our country’s leaders and foreign policy decision makers resort to acquiesce bordering on implied derogation of our sovereignty.
Even amid this pandemic, such “health crisis opportunism” being applied by China does not speak well of the assumed trust and goodwill between the two Asian allies. That said, our country is losing tens of billions of pesos a year in “stolen” aquatic resources, not to mention the wanton destruction of corals within our Exclusive Economic Zone that threatens our food security.
The fact that we are a militarily weak country that cannot match China’s military power should compel us to resort to establishing stronger alliances not only with other Asia-Pacific neighbors like Australia and Japan and the other ASEAN countries, but our long-standing western allies like the US and Europe.
Only through a clear message that the presence of “balance of power” in the West Philippine Sea can help us in this regard.
Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson expressed thanks over the weekend to the donors of COVID-19 vaccines that arrived in the Philippines recently, saying these give Filipinos hope of recovering from the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.
Lacson said the vaccines from China-based Sinovac, as well as AstraZeneca vaccines from the COVID-19 Vaccines Advance Market Commitment (COVAX AMC), will help achieve herd immunity that is a key to resuming economic activities.
“Always grateful to China and COVAX AMC for making us see a sliver of hope to achieve herd immunity,” he said on his Twitter account Friday evening, adding the P2.2-billion daily loss in household consumption and the 9.5-percent economic contraction was driving the country a step closer to insanity until the Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines arrived.
Malinaw na nakasaad sa Saligang Batas ang karapatan ng Senado sa pagpasok ng ating pamahalaan sa mga pandaigdigang tratado lalo na kung nakasalalay ang pangmatagalang kapakanan at interes ng bansa, katulad ng Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
“I may not be a lawyer like the President. But last time I read the Constitution, a senator has something to do with international agreements. The President should refresh his memory by reading Article VII, Sec. 21 of the 1987 Constitution. It says: No treaty or international agreement shall be valid and effective unless concurred in by at least two-thirds of all the Members of the Senate,” banggit ni Lacson.
No less than the 1987 Constitution gives senators a say in the Philippines’ international agreements like the PH-US Visiting Forces Agreement, especially if they affect the country’s long-term national interest and security.
“I may not be a lawyer like the President. But last time I read the Constitution, a senator has something to do with international agreements. The President should refresh his memory by reading Article VII, Sec. 21 of the 1987 Constitution. It says: No treaty or international agreement shall be valid and effective unless concurred in by at least two-thirds of all the Members of the Senate,” said Lacson, who chairs the Senate Committee on National Defense.
Mas epektibo ang sibil, madiplomasya at magalang na paraan ng paghahatid ng mensahe sa isang matagal nang kaalyado gaya ng Estados Unidos, lalo sa usapin tulad ng Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
Binanggit ito ni Senador Panfilo Lacson, chairman ng Senate Committee on National Defense, dahil para sa kanya ay hindi dapat presyuhan ang kahalagahan ng VFA sa Pilipinas.
“The President may have used strong words to send his message across to the US. But certainly, there is a more civil and statesmanlike manner to ask for compensation from a longtime ally using the usual diplomatic channels and still get the same desired results,” banggit ni Lacson.
Why use strong words to send a message to a longtime ally when a civil, diplomatic and statesmanlike approach can be more effective?
Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson stressed this Sunday as he pointed out one cannot put a price tag on the value of the PH-US Visiting Forces Agreement on the Philippines.
“The President may have used strong words to send his message across to the US. But certainly, there is a more civil and statesmanlike manner to ask for compensation from a longtime ally using the usual diplomatic channels and still get the same desired results,” said Lacson, who chairs the Senate Committee on National Defense.
Mas magkakaroon ng balance of power sa South China Sea ngayong higit na pinahalagahan ng bagong administrasyon ng Estados Unidos ang US-PH Mutual Defense Treaty.
Ito ang nakikita ni Senador Panfilo Lacson, chairman ng Senate Committee on National Defense, bunga na rin ng komunikasyon sa pagitan ni Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. at US State Secretary Antony Blinken.
“There you go. The US-PH Mutual Defense Treaty is one yet untapped weapon in our arsenal. I certainly hope we do not draw that weapon. Meantime, we might as well keep it there,” banggit ni Lacson sa pamamagitan ng kanyang Twitter account matapos ang pagpupulong nina Locsin at Blinken.
With the importance placed on it by the Biden administration, the US-PH Mutual Defense Treaty will help maintain the balance of power in the Asia-Pacific – including in the South China Sea, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said Thursday.
Lacson, who heads the Senate’s Committee on National Defense and Security, said this after State Secretary Antony Blinken spoke with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.
“There you go. The US-PH Mutual Defense Treaty is one yet untapped weapon in our arsenal. I certainly hope we do not draw that weapon. Meantime, we might as well keep it there,” he said on his Twitter account.