MANILA — Presidential aspirant Manila Mayor Francisco Domagoso said he wants to beef up the country's naval forces amid China's expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea.
The nominee of the May 2022 presidential election, popularly known as Isko Moreno, stressed a "fearless" assertion of the nation's sovereignty in an interview with Kyodo News on Friday last week, saying, "I will buy more ships and resources and reinforce our navy and coast guard" on the western seaboard facing the disputed waters.
Vowing not to allow any form of bullying by foreign countries, Domagoso," said, "We have to show...the world that we are fighting for it" in a very civilized but firm manner.
Domagoso said he would call for other parties to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to support the Philippines in asserting a 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration that invalidated China's historical claim over much of the South China Sea.
Apparently departing from foreign policies of President Rodrigo Duterte who has been criticized for being defeatist toward China on the dispute, Domagoso also said he would fully cooperate with the International Criminal Court should it proceed with its investigation of Duterte's war on drugs that reportedly led to wide-scale abuses and killings believed to number in the thousands.
Regarding trade policies, the 47-year-old mayor, who is the third most preferred candidate in the presidential election according to a September Pulse Asia survey, said he is willing to enter into "new sets of relationships" with Japan, China, Indonesia and Thailand, in a bid to create more domestic jobs and revive the COVID-19-weary Philippine economy.