Inquirer.net/Asia News Network
Lawmakers urged the Duterte administration on Saturday not to become complacent about China’s installation of missiles in Philippine reefs in the West Philippine Sea.
The lawmakers made the appeal even as Malacañang said it would exhaust all means, including a diplomatic protest, once the government was able to verify the missile installation.
But presidential spokesperson Harry Roque maintained that the situation in the West Philippine Sea did not pose a threat to the country because of its strong friendship with China.
“Let us not be complacent and say ‘maybe,’” said Sen. Gregorio Honasan, chair of the committee on national defense and security.
“Many people have landed in trouble because of speculations and assumptions. Let us assume the worst situation,” said Honasan, a former Army colonel and mutineer.
“In the first place, why would China place missiles there? Where would it aim these?” Honasan said, urging the President to seek multilateral diplomatic action.
Honasan said China’s militarization of the West Philippine Sea affected not just the Philippines, but other countries as well.
“While it’s still early, let us unite and turn to diplomacy and talk sincerely with China,” he said, adding that a multilateral approach would be best for the situation.
Sen. JV Ejercito urged the Department of Foreign Affairs to file a diplomatic protest over China’s move, saying Beijing “has gone overboard by installing weapons systems in the disputer islands.”
Sen. Leila de Lima, a critic of the President, urged the Armed Forces of the Philippines to impress upon the President that the situation posed the “single biggest threat to national security in recent decades.”
'See no evil …’
She chided the AFP for remaining silent even if “[the President] is already pawning the security of Filipino soldiers and citizens in his effort to make his personal love affair with China a matter of national policy.”
“In line with the President’s amorous affair with China, the AFP has chosen to play the monkey that sees, hears, and speaks no evil whenever it comes to China,” she said.
“It is time that the AFP draw the line between Duterte’s mendicant policy toward China on the one hand, and national defense and security on the other,” she added.