Manila, Philippines – “Key government officials have already reproached the continuing Chinese presence in the Philippine waters, and yet the Commander-in-Chief has yet to manifest an unequivocal stand against a crystal-clear maritime aggression. The efforts of our top diplomat and defense chief to have the remaining Chinese vessels removed from our territory would be totally wasted if President Duterte himself remains mum and subservient to Beijing,” according to the militant fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA), lambasting the “silence” of President Rodrigo Duterte on the month-long presence of around 200 vessels in the West Philippine Sea.
PAMALAKAYA was referring to the unprecedented strong statements of Defense Chief Delfin Lorenzana and Foreign Affairs Secretary Locsin against the presence of around 200 Chinese vessels in Julian Felipe Reef and other parts of the West Philippine Sea.
“China’s vaccine diplomacy and economic investments seem to clamp a gag order on President Duterte about the sea row. Instead of exhausting all diplomatic, political, and legal means to assert our sovereignty, Mr. Duterte has chosen to set it all aside in the name of a one-sided friendly relations with China,” Bobby Roldan, PAMALAKAYA Vice Chair for Luzon said in a statement.
The fishers’ group calls on the government to enforce the “binding ruling” of the international arbitration by rallying international community to pressure Beijing, and seeking the United Nations General Assembly to sanction China over its “unwavering non-compliance and violation” of international law.
“The Philippine government has every legal claim at its disposal to peacefully and diplomatically assert the sovereignty to China. This is in addition to the government’s constitutional mandate to preserve and defend the Philippine sovereignty, territorial integrity, and national interest. Duterte’s failure to do so is tantamount to treason and betrayal of the constitution,” Roldan ended. ###