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Diplomacy still best approach in WPS dispute – lawmakers

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MANILA – Lawmakers at the House of Representatives on Thursday said the best way to respond to China's continued aggression in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) is still through diplomatic means.
In a press conference, TINGOG Party-list Rep. Jude Acidre said the OCTA survey result showing that 72 percent of Filipinos prefer diplomacy in addressing the WPS issue indicates mass support for the policies of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.
"That's a good indicator of how much trust the President and the administration has in pursuing a diplomatic solution…we're still pursuing the diplomatic channels…Kung nakikita niyo, palaging naghahain tayong diplomatic protest, pero (As you can see, we are still filing diplomatic protests, but) at the same time we also making sure that we are capable of defending our boundaries," Acidre said.
The recent survey also found that about 73 percent of the respondents said the current administration should assert the Philippines' territorial rights in the WPS through military action, which includes expanded naval patrols and troop presence in the disputed areas.
Acidre said the survey results reflect the Filipino people's consensus on the importance of defending and upholding the country's sovereignty against foreign intrusion, whether through diplomatic or military action.
Manila Rep. Ernesto Dionisio Jr. said multilateral talks with countries who have a similar situation as the Philippines also form part of the diplomatic solution.
"Hindi natin gusto ng giyera. Pero (We don't want war. But) it is our right to defend the sovereignty of our country. Kaya 'yung mga sinasabi ng iba na maliit tayo, hindi natin kaya ang China, meron tayong mga kakampi, (That's why those who say that we're small, that we can't stand up to China, we have allies), like-minded countries who are willing to support our country," Dionisio said.
Isabela Rep. Faustino Dy, for his part, assured that Congress would consider increasing the funding for improved surveillance and other capabilities for the Philippine Coast Guard and other relevant agencies.
"Kinakailangan po nila ng mas marami pang suporta para mas magawa nila nang mas maayos ang kanilang mga katungkulan (They need more support so that they could effectively fulfill their duties)," Dy said.
President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. earlier said the Philippines would not use water cannons to retaliate against China's continued harassment in the WPS.
Marcos stressed that it was not the country's mission to increase tension in the disputed waters.
He said the Philippines would continue to file diplomatic protests to address China's aggression in the WPS.
WPS new model probe
Acidre, meanwhile, stressed the need for a thorough investigation into the origins and motive behind the alleged recorded audio communication between a Chinese diplomat and a high-ranking Filipino military official regarding the "new model agreement" on the Ayungin Shoal in the WPS.
In the alleged recording, Western Command chief Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos was talking with an unidentified Chinese diplomat on how to conduct the rotation and resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal, where a Marine detachment is manning the BRP Sierra Madre (LS-57), can proceed without interference.
"Bakit lumalabas ang mga ganitong misinformation or mga wiretapping? Nagpapakita lang na medyo act of desperation na po ito, ano, para to muddle the entire issue (Why is this kind of misinformation or wiretapping surfacing? This just shows an act of desperation to muddle the entire issue)," Acidre said.
Dy called the alleged wiretapping incident a breach of trust and a violation of Philippine laws.
He said whoever is responsible for the wiretapping or recording of the conversation should face consequences for their actions.
Regarding the next steps, Dy deferred to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to handle the investigation.
"Again, I will leave it to our DFA on how to proceed ito pong investigation na ito (with this investigation)," he said. (PNA)

Last Modified: 2024-May-10 19.00.00 UTC+0800