Senators back PBBM’s refusal to use water cannon on Chinese vessels

(MANILA BULLETIN) Senators expressed support for President Marcos’ pronouncement that the Philippines has no plan to put any kind of cannon on its ships.

Sen. Francis Tolentino said it’s a “pragmatic” and “responsible” decision made by the President to consider the prevailing situation calculated to maintain the current moral high ground of the Philippines.

He added that determining whether this decision is only temporary is up to the President.

Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada said that it’s the Philippines’ responsibility to remain steadfast in safeguarding its maritime and sovereign rights through a rule-based approach.

“We must focus our efforts on ensuring the protection of our territorial and maritime interests by adhering to the principles of the rule of law. This entails the use of diplomatic channels and peaceful means of conflict resolution,” he said.

“By adhering to these principles, we can successfully safeguard our sovereign rights and protect our territorial integrity while maintaining a peaceful and stable environment in the region,” he added.

He mentioned that instead of resorting to retaliatory measures, the country will assert its rights through diplomatic means and the Philippines has consistently filed diplomatic protests to address China’s aggression within our territorial waters.

“The position taken by the President demonstrates his dedication to upholding stability, diplomacy, and the long-term interests of our country. Let us stand together in supporting our government’s principled approach. By following international norms and pursuing peaceful means, we can protect our maritime rights while avoiding unnecessary conflict,” he said.

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III questioned the involvement of other “powers” in the WPS issue when the intention is to lower tensions.

“Why increase the number of EDCA (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement) sites? Why buy missiles and submarines instead of surface vessels which can obviously be used in disaster relief operations?” he added.

The President stressed that the country “will not follow China” in terms of increasing tensions in the WPS through a water cannon attack.

“The last thing we would like is to raise the tensions in the West Philippine Sea. That’s the last. And that would certainly do that, so hindi natin gagawin (we will not do it). We will not follow the Chinese Coast Guard and the Chinese vessels down that road because it’s simply, it is not the mission of our Navy, our Coast Guard to start or increase tensions,” he said.

Marcos pointed out that their mission is “precisely the opposite”—to lower tensions.