July 21, 2024

President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement that he cannot do anything about China’s invasion of our claimed territories in the West Philippine Sea has dragged further the already downtrodden spirit of the Filipinos.
During his State of the Nation Address, the President said he was “inutile” when it comes to China’s developments over the WPS. His reason: We cannot wage war against China because it has the armament while the Philippines does not.
The President’s pronouncement displays a defeatist attitude that does not help boost the Filipinos’ sense of nationalism, especially among the men in uniform deployed at seas to protect our sovereignty. Is it not disappointing to have a commander-in-chief who cannot even assert the country’s sovereign rights over the WPS?
To recall, the United Nations Arbitral Court has invalidated in 2016 China’s claims over the WPS. That ruling was a hard-fought victory for the Filipinos. That victory, however, was short-lived, as the Duterte government never used the historic ruling to assert the country’s exclusive economic rights over portions of the WPS.
Let us remember that we are not the only nation that has claims over the WPS. Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, and Indonesia too have claims over that body of water and their governments have been resolute in protesting China’s invalid nine-dash lines from the start.
Up to this day, these countries are not giving China the chance to move an inch towards their claimed territories. Their leaders have been firm in saying that their sovereignty is non-negotiable.
This is why we can’t fathom why Malacañang is acting so cowardly towards China. We cannot find a logical explanation on why the President, known for his venomous utterances towards other nations that are raising concerns about his iron-fist kind of leadership, is left defanged when it comes to protecting the country’s interests against China over the WPS.
What highest official of the land would pronounce in a national address to his people that he could not do anything about an invasion? Pundits would claim that a leader who admits weakness in defending his country’s sovereign rights does not have the right to continue leading a nation. But Filipinos remain hopeful that our President will soon realize the urgency of asserting his constitutional duty as the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to defend our sovereignty.
While we agree that we indeed could not afford to wage war with China because we cannot match its naval forces, this does not mean we should give up our claims over territories at the WPS.
Indeed, we can resolve our differences with China through diplomatic means. Is that not the reason we elevated our claims over WPS to the UN? Because that is the diplomatic means by which this tension must be resolved. We got the UN to our side, but this government never used that diplomatic ruling to advance our stand over the WPS. In fact, it enabled China to proceed with its invalid moves, by not raising a finger against China’s establishment of bases and other infrastructure on our exclusive economic zone.
This government must assert the country’s exclusive economic rights over the WPS. It owes it to the future generation. Those territories are not only rich in oil and other mineral resources, but also teeming with aquatic life, a source of food, a source of livelihood to sustain us and the generations to come.
Yet we have a government that keeps on saying we can’t do anything about China’s invasion.
If the President can’t fight for us, we call on all patriotic Filipinos to continue to defend what is rightfully and legitimately ours under the rule of law, which remains our best guard against further aggression in our lands and waters.