(INQUIRER) MANILA, Philippines – Senator Jinggoy Estrada on Tuesday said the grounded BRP Sierra Madre on Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea is an extension of the country’s territory, adding that it might as well be called a “national symbol” that honors the country’s bravery despite threats and oppression.
In a privilege speech he delivered during a plenary session on Tuesday, Estrada said the grounded ship is a symbol of the country’s determination to defend its sovereign rights against claimants.
“The decrepit, 80-year-old landing ship tank, a commissioned ship of the Navy, no matter how rotten-looking and unseaworthy, is an extension of the territory of our country,” Estrada said.
“Maaari nating sabihing ang BRP Sierra Madre ay isang pambansang sagisag ng matapang na pagtindig at hindi pagyuko ng Pilipinas sa kabila ng pananakot at pang-aapi. Sa kabila ng kalumaan [at] kawalan ng maayos na suporta, nananatili itong nakatayo at matatag,” said Estrada.
(We might as well call BRP Sierra Madre as a national symbol that represents the Philippines’ brave stand and unyielding determination despite threats and oppression. Despite its old age and lack of proper support, it remains standing and strong.)
Estrada, in the same Senate session, likewise called out columnist Rigoberto Tiglao who claimed that former president Joseph Estrada promised to tow away the grounded ship from Ayungin Shoal.
The lawmaker refuted this and maintained that his father did not make such a promise.
“The alleged promise to remove BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin is a lie. Former Defense Secretary Orly Mercado and the Armed Forces of the Philippines mapped out strategies to fight what they say is China’s “creeping invasion”. Are we just going to let go of BRP Sierra Madre which is grounded in Ayungin? As I have said, it defies logic.)