Pangilinan: Take cue from Indonesia, Vietnam in asserting rights over West Philippine Sea

Pangilinan: Take cue from Indonesia, Vietnam in asserting rights over West Philippine Sea

VICE-PRESIDENTIAL aspirant Senator Francis Pangilinan said the Philippines can take its cue from neighbors Vietnam and Indonesia in using its naval resources and asserting rights over its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea.
Pangilinan said that similar to the two countries, the Philippine Navy is far miniscule than that of China, but Vietnam and Indonesia have displayed mettle in resisting aggression.
“[China’s Navy is] far larger than Vietnam and Indonesia but they can assert. They have asserted their sovereignty over these waters,” Pangilinan said on CNN’s Vice Presidential Debates Saturday night.
“Indonesia even, binomba nga at pinasabog ‘yung Chinese vessel eh. Hindi naman ibig sabihin gera so we have to assert. I’m not saying we should atakihin natin sila pero pag tayo na wina-water cannon. Di naman tayo pwedeng naka nganga lang. We have to defend,” he added.
“Our Navy, our Coast Guard must defend our sovereign waters and it starts with being present in these areas by having these patrols,” the vice presidential contender also said.
Pangilinan said the government must continuously bolsters its naval forces to guard the country’s EEZ and protect not only the country’s maritime resources, but the thousands of Filipino fishermen making a living from the sea.
“I am prepared to fight for our rights over the waters of our Exclusive Economic Zone and not be subservient,” he said.
“Hindi tayo pwedeng sunud-sunuran sa China. Gusto natin makipagkaibigan sa China pero ‘wag naman dahil sa pagkakaibigan natin sa kanila, i-gi-give up natin yung 550,000 square kilometers of sovereign and exclusive economic zone,” he added.
Pangilinan reiterated his call to deploy more Coast Guard in the WPS and capacitate them to cover wider areas.
Securing the country’s maritime resources in the WPS means economic, food and livelihood security for the Filipinos.
“We have to fight for our Exclusive Economic Zone. That is energy security dahil maraming oil diyan at gas reserves. That is food security dahil maraming isda diyan at aqua-marine resources. Ipaglaban natin yung arbitral ruling dahil atin yan. Atin yan. Atin ang West Philippine Sea,” he said.
He lamented that fishermen are left on their own amidst the threat of harassment every time they venture out to sea for a living. Each fisherman now only earns around P3,000 a month due to fewer catch.
“Tinataboy ang ating mga mangingisda. Ipaglaban natin ang ating soberenya. Dati, ang kinikita nila P40,000- P60,000 a month dahil nakakapunta sila dun sa malayo. Ngayon dahil wala na yung Coast Guard, wala na yung Navy, talagang wala ng pumoprotekta sa kanila,” he said.
“Dapat i-resume yung patrol, i-resume ang Coast Guard. Para pag naroon ang ating mangingisda, meron silang takbuhan,” Pangilinan added.