MANILA -- Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros urged the Marcos. Jr administration not to allow the Philippines be trapped in the conflict between the United States and People’s Republic of China.
Hontiveros, in a Facebook post exchange with a netizen regarding the US-China tension and hours before the start of the PH-US Balikatan exercises, said the better attitude is for the Philippines not to take side and remain neutral and promote stability.
And that, she said, would be possible if the government would band with the “whole international community.”
“We should look at the whole international community, call on it to band together, call on more countries to band together, to preserve stability, to uphold a rules-based process even with regards to our conflicts, and of course, to uphold peace in the world,” Hontiveros said.
“It is in our better, greater, longer term interest na maghanap ng isang concrete expression of multilateral foreign relations especially on the waters in and beyond the West Philippine Sea in the greater South China Sea, that will better serve Filipinos, and even regional and global interests,” she added.
The Philippines, she said, should not allow itself to be used by either country, but instead assure that the interest of its own people and territorial sovereignty will prevail.
“Hindi tayo dapat pumayag na maipit between two watting hegemons, China and the US. Meron ngang kasabihan, kapag ang dalawang elepante daw nagsagupaan eh baka mapisa na lang ang mga damo sa paa nila,” Hontiveros said.
From April 11 to 28, more than 176,000 Armed Forces of the Philippines member and the the US military, will participate in “Balikatan 2023.”
The said joint military exercises meanwhile has drawn China’s “concerns.”
Even Senator Robin Padilla, although supportive of the military exercises, reminded the Marcos Jr. administration not to allow our country be used as a “staging point” of any offensive act by the US in the guise of the Mutual Defense Treaty inked by the Philippines and US governments.
“Dapat nating siguraduhin na ang gobyerno natin ay hindi papayag na maging staging point tayo ng opensa kung magkakaroon ng USofA/Taiwan vs. China conflict. Siguraduhin lamang natin na depensa lang tayo kaya’t maging handa,” Padilla said.
“Tigilan na muna ang pagiging malambot at pa-baby ng mga Pinoy. Hindi ito ang panahon para pagtalunan pa ito,” he added.
Padilla believes the identified EDCA sites will only be at the center of dangers if the US will use these areas as “staging sites” of offensive operations against China.
“Kung opensa ang gagawin ng Taiwan at Estados Unidos de America laban sa China, hinding hindi dapat tayo makialam dahil wala tayong nilagdaan na patungkol sa opensa. Ang EDCA ay nilagdaan ni former president Benigno Cojuangco Aquino, Jr ay dahil hindi ata siya naging masaya sa Mutual Defense Treaty pagkatapos maganap ang Scarborough Shoal. Hindi dahil sa Taiwan,” Padilla said.
As for Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, he said: “There is a big possibility that we will be dragged into that conflict once these EDCA sites are utilized by the Americans to support Taiwan. These EDCA sites will soon figure in the Chinese military strategic and operational maps.”