By Francis Wakefield
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday said that contrary to claims by the Duterte administration’s critic, government has not mismanaged the handling of the issue concerning the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
Lorenzana made the remark after he led the Department of National Defense (DND) and its bureaus in culminating the observance of the National Flag Days (May 28 – June 12) and in celebrating the 120th anniversary of the Philippine Independence Day during the flag-raising ceremony held at the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) covered court in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
“We have managed it very well through the president’s leadership, hindi mismanage ‘yun, sa akin hindi mismanage ‘yun (that is not mismanaged, for me that is not mismanaged),” Lorenzana told reporters.
“Ang nag mismanage ‘yung previous administration dahil nagkagulo-gulo rito dahil mismanaged (The one who mismanaged it is the previous administration because there were confusion/disorder) because it was mismanaged),” he added.
Lorenzana explained that when President Rodrigo Duterte assumed the presidency on July 1, 2016, the Philippines has no trade with China. He added that they don’t buy Philippine products because of the ongoing rift concerning the WPS or South China Sea.
“Walang (rin) tourist na Chinese na pumupunta rito. Hindi tayo nakakapangisda dun sa Scarborough Shoal. Iyung ating mga tropa hina-harass nila (There are no Chinese tourists who visit us. We cannot fish at Scarborough Shoal),” he said.
“Ngayon (Now) we sell our bananas there. They buy all our bananas. The number of theiir tourists nila rito nagdoble (here has doubled). We can fish there and ‘yung ating mga tropa hindi na hinaharasss (our troops are not being harassed).except iyung (the) very isolated incident in the Ayungin. So is that mismanagement? Is that mismanagement?,” Lorenzana added.
Lorenzana, at the same time, said that contrary to Magdalo Partylist Rep. Garry Alejano’s claim that troops are already demoralized due to the president’s mishandling of the WPS issue, that is not true at all.
“No, hindi (they are not) demoralized. Pumunta lang kayo (You go to the field), the morale of the troops are very high,” Lorenzana said.
“It was reported to me (nirereport) that they are doing their best to protect our country.”
“The West Philippine Sea is another problem, another issue. But inside, we are doing, our soldiers’ morale is high and they are doing their best to protect our people,” he added.
With regard to President Duterte’s earlier comments that the military would rather oust him than defend the WPS, Lorenzana said that will not happen.
“Ah hindi naman siguro kasi sabi nya kung orderan ko yung sundalo at idefend yung West Philippine Sea, i-oust sya. Kasi nga hindi naman nya siguro gagawin yun,” he said.
The defense secretary also noted that insofar as he is concerned, China has no plans of invading our country.
Lorenzana made the statement after former National Security Adviser (NSA) Norberto Gonzales urged government to begin crafting contingency plan in case China decides to invade the Philippines.
“I don’t think China will invade us. Although China is a superpower hindi nila ugali (that’s not their trait) to invade another country even before–during ancient times),” he said.