MANILA - Probinsya Muna Development Initiative (PROMDI) party standard bearer Manny Pacquiao would assert the Philippines' right to the West Philippine Sea before the United Nations instead of planting a flag in disputed shoals, his runningmate said Monday.
Pacquiao does not need to travel to contested areas for "sincerity cannot be proven by planting a flag," Atienza said when asked to comment about Sen. Panfilo Lacson's recent trip to Pag-asa Island in Kalayaan, Palawan.
"Seseryosohin natin ang paninindigan ng bansang Pilipinas sa United Nations," he said in the "Pandesal Forum".
(We will seriously take the Philippines claims to the United Nations.)
"Nandoon ang claims at counter claims. Doon tayo magpakita ng desisyon, dunong at tapang," he said.
(The claims and counter claims are there. That is where we should show our decisiveness, our knowledge, or courage.)
Atienza claimed that Lacson's flag-planting move is useless, except in shaming President Rodrigo Duterte, who has yet to fulfill his 2016 campaign promise of riding a jet ski to the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea to assert the Philippines' claims against China.
"'Yung pagtatanim ng bandila walang magagawa yan," he said.
"Manny Pacquiao does not need to go to any of the islands contested by China and the Philippines to plant a flag," he said.
"We will fight it out in the United Nations maski sino sumama loob diyan, maski sino magalit (regardless of who will fell bad about it)."
In 2016, a Hague court invalidated China's sweeping claims in the West Philippine Sea and awarded the arbitral victory to the Philippines.
Duterte did not enforce the ruling, saying the Philippine military is no match for Beijing.
Lacson, a former Philippine National Police chief, flew to one of the disputed areas over the weekend, and noted that the Philippines should call on its allies and the international community to ensure that there will be a "balance of powers" in one of Asia's most strategic waterways.