PH urged to resume maritime patrols, join navy drills in pushback vs China

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 14 2021 09:45 AM | Updated as of Apr 14 2021 11:07 AM

Philippines, US, Japan, and India navies conduct maritime cooperative activity in the South China Sea in 2019. Photo from the Philippine Navy/file

MANILA - The Philippines must conduct maritime patrols following the recent aggressions of China in the West Philippine Sea, a lawmaker said Wednesday.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr earlier summoned Chinese ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian over the "illegal lingering presence" of China's maritime militia fleet in Julian Felipe Reef in the Manila's exclusive economic zone.

Summoning the ambassador was the "appropriate thing to do," said Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon, vice chairperson of the House Committee on National Defense.

"Beyond that I think the country should proceed with maritime patrols in the area. As we have experienced recently, a Philippine Air Force plane was conducting maritime patrols and it was even challenged by the Chinese," he told ANC's Headstart.

"We should be continuing to do that. This is to back up the statement of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana when he basically told the Chinese to get out. Those words should be backed up not just with diplomatic action but the exercise of our rights in ensuring the EEZ of the Philippines is protected and asserted."

The Philippines should also resume its participation in maritime drills with other nations, Biazon said.

The country earlier this year skipped navy drills in the disputed South China Sea so as not to antagonize Beijing.

Manila and Washington on Monday began its annual joint military drill following last year's suspension.

"It's the next step we should be making to make up for the imbalance of military power between China and the Philippines," he said.

"It is time for us to engage our long-time allies and even possibly forge new ones. We have the international community sympathetic to our cause. There is a new group called the Quad, that's another option we can engage with."

The lawmaker called on Filipinos to stand united against Chinese threat in the West Philippine Sea, adding that the media's presence in the EEZ was part of the country asserting its rights.

"There should be a united voice, we hope the Filipinos themselves would voice out their concerns about this intrusion in the EEZ," he said.

"If the House or Senate comes out with its united stand on the matter we’d give the President confidence to pursue a more assertive stance."

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