Mr. President, this representation as your Chairperson of the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, Peace, Unification and Reconciliation, conducted a hearing this morning, on the proposed National Defense Act and the revitalization of the Self-Reliant Defense Posture (SRDP) Program – both of which are priority measures of the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and part of the legislative agenda of our latest Philippine Development Plan (PDP). We have the representatives from the DND, AFP, DFA, among others. And this issue – the recent aggression by the Chinese Coast Guard against our Philippine Coast Guard – was taken up.
The DND and the AFP said that they already issued a strong statement of condemnation. Upon the questioning of one of our colleagues, Sen. Tulfo, DND shared that the civilian vessel used in the resupply mission to our troops in Ayungin was escorted by the Philippine Coast Guard and the Philippine Navy. And this was the case every time there were resupply missions.
We were told that our Defense Attaché in Beijing is also sending a strong statement to his counterparts in China.
On the part of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), together with the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS), the agency assured us they are fully aware of the circumstances and that they share the concern of the AFP and the PCG who were directly affected by the incident. The representative of the DFA said that they are currently undertaking all diplomatic measures and coordinating with their counterparts, here and in Beijing. Finally, they assured us that they assert and re-emphasize in every opportunity our sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the concerned areas.
Sabi ko nga po sa aming naging pagdinig kanina, pinapaalis po tayo ng ating kapitbahay sa sarili nating bakuran! Hindi pa po sila na-kontento doon, binugahan pa po tayo ng tubig.
The Philippines has a continuing foreign policy of being a “friend to all and enemy to none”. I am wondering how far can we maintain this policy of friendship and amity, when we are constantly harassed, bullied and disrespected as a nation, and our people, our uniformed officers are being put on a very dangerous situation.
Ano po kaya ang pwede pa nating gawin bilang isang bansa upang tumigil po ang ginagawang ito ng ating kapitbahay at matagal nating kaibigan? Ang Pilipinas at Tsina ay matagal na nagkaroon at napanatili ang maayos na ugnayan. Our trade relations date back to precolonial times. Ngunit bakit po ganito ang pag-trato nila sa ating ngayon?
Our historic legal victory in The Hague invalidated the expansive claims of the nine-dash line. The decision is now part of the international law. Ngunit binabalewala lang po ito ng China. Ano po ang magandang kahihinatnan ng pagfa-file natin ng diplomatic protests, kung ang mismong arbitral ruling ay kanila lamang isinasantabi?
Mr. President, I join the frustration of the Filipino people in the relentless belligerence of the Chinese government, when international law already gives us all the legal rights to the contested areas. I join in the frustration of the whole country that all of our diplomatic attempts seem to bear no fruit. I join the frustration of our people that we seem to be powerless, despite our exhaustive efforts, in defending what is rightfully ours.
Thank you very much, Mr. President.