By Hannah Torregoza
Sen. Richard Gordon today urged the Duterte government to beef up the country’s military capability so that China and other nations won’t look down on the Philippines as a pushover.
Gordon said it is high-time the government seriously makes every effort to improve the country’s defense and security assets so it has even a minimum deterrent force to convey the Philippines, too, is a force to reckon with.
“They can easily intimidate us knowing we have nothing to prove. I suggest that we should have some kind or level of deterrence. Let us show that we also can stand up against anything,” Gordon said in a Radio DZBB interview.
The senator cited Vietnam’s similar row with China in the disputed seas and yet was able to assert their rights on their territory.
He also pointed out even India has a border spat with China and yet they were able to show a level of assertiveness against Beijing.
“How can we face them when we don’t even have warships. Our worst enemy is ourselves; we don’t even have any equipment. We don’t have any warfare capability,” Gordon pointed out.
Yet, the senator reiterated the Philippines cannot just go meekly with China. But he said he understands President Duterte and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) stand on the West Philippine Sea issue.
“I really doubt the President will give up our claims. We are into talks. But still, China should respect our President,” he said.
Because of this, Gordon said he believes it is high time the Duterte government presses for a Code of Conduct between China and other claimant countries in the West Philippine Sea.
“Everyone should be part of the talks because everyone should be free to fish especially in high seas,” he stressed.
And China, with a giant economy, should not be bullying nations it considers its brothers and sisters.
“That’s why I was pointing out, they keep saying we are traditional allies, brothers, and sisters, right? But a big brother would not forcibly take away the fish his brothers have,” he stressed.
“That is why I wish ASEAN nations would enforce a code of conduct. It’s clear that China’s Coast Guards cannot come up on Philippine boat or ship and likewise, other countries too,” Gordon said.