MANILA - Senator Panfilo Lacson on Sunday warned that a joint investigation with China and a third party of the sinking of a Filipino fishing boat by a Chinese vessel "may be interpreted as a waiver of our right of ownership of Recto Bank."
Lacson said the 2016 Hague ruling expressly states that Recto Bank is part of the Philippines' 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone and therefore cannot be claimed by China.
"While the intention of this administration may be laudable in trying to preserve our country's bilateral relations with China, presumably for political and economic reasons in order to uplift the living standards of our people, we should also consider the more important issue of sovereignty and territorial integrity," Lacson said.
He added that the issue must be clearly addressed during the conduct of the joint investigation "at the very least."
Lacson earlier lamented President Rodrigo Duterte's statement that the sinking of the Filipino boat was just a “maritime incident” and should not be blown out of proportion.
He said Duterte “left us heartbroken” with his remarks.
Instead of "exercising his last option of surrender,” Lacson urged Duterte to invoke the Philippines’ Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States, which he said was “one yet untapped weapon.”
Malacañang, however, said invoking the country's treaty with the US was reckless.