‘Wala talagang laban’: Lacson sees first hand inadequate PH military presence in WPS

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 20 2021 05:20 PM

 Presidential aspirant and Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, Peace, Unification and Reconciliation chairman Panfilo Lacson visited Pag-asa Island on West Philippine Sea Saturday Morning. Zandro Ochona, ABS-CBN News
Presidential aspirant and Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, Peace, Unification and Reconciliation chairman Panfilo Lacson visited Pag-asa Island on West Philippine Sea Saturday Morning. Zandro Ochona, ABS-CBN News

Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Saturday saw for himself how inadequate the Philippine military presence was in the vicinity of Pag-asa Island, Palawan, in the face of continuing threats by Chinese boats.

Lacson, who is running for president, said 54 Armed Forces personnel and 2 police officers manned their respective posts on the island, the second largest in the disputed Spratlys archipelago in the West Philippine Sea. 

Pag-asa has about 300 residents, of which 151 are civilians and 150 workers from the ongoing rehabilitation of the pier and runway.

“Wala talagang laban,” said Lacson, who chairs the Senate committee on national defense. 

“I’m always advocating for maintaining a balance of power. ’Yun lagi sinasabi ko, parang broken record, pero that’s the way it should go. Kasi kung wala tayong military capability masyado compared to China degraded masyado ’yung military capability natin especially in this part of the archipelago so kailangan natin i-maintain ’yung balance of power not to trigger world war 3, no?”

(No contest. I’m always advocating for maintaining a balance of power, I've always said that, even though I sound like a broken record. But that's the way it should go because if we don't have a military capability like China, our military capability is too degraded, especially in this part of the archipelago. So we have to maintain the balance of power so we avoid a World War III, right?)

"Nobody wants to trigger a world war, but at least to hold at bay ’yung mga aggressors, ’yung mga nag-e-encroach and Pag-asa is our hope para mai-assert na territoryo natin ito,“ the senator added.

(Nobody wants to trigger a world war but at least to hold at bay the aggressors, those who encroach and Pag-asa is our hope to assert that this is our territory.) 

On the way to the island 508 kilometers off mainland Palawan, Lacson’s private plane and another aircraft carrying journalists received a warning from what was believed be be Chinese vessels in the area.

To further assert the Philippines' presence in the area, Lacson and the Armed Forces raised 3 more flags near the pier where several Chinese Coast Guard ships were situated.

Lacson was accompanied by Partido Reporma president and former House speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, secretary-general and Davao del Norte Gov. Edwin Jubahib, senatorial candidate and former Philippine National Police chief Guillermo Eleazar, spokesperson Ashley Acedillo, and former Interior Secretary and National Unity Party chairman Ronaldo Puno.

Analysts have said that the West Philippine Sea should be a primary concern in the 2022 elections. — With a report by Zandro Ochona, ABS-CBN News