By Genalyn Kabiling
The administration is “not guilty” of inaction in addressing the country’s dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea, Malacañang insisted on Monday.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque assured the public that the government continues to defend and protect the country’s interests in the West Philippine Sea, citing the filing of protests against China’s actions in the contested territory.
Roque issued the remarks after a latest survey indicated that majority of Filipinos believed that it was not right for the government to do nothing about China’s intrusion in the contested territory.
“Dapat huwag silang mag-approve sa inaction kasi ang katunayan po ay hindi po guilty ang gobyerno ni Presidente Duterte ng inaction, hindi lang po tayo maingay, pero meron po tayong action kaagad kapag ang tingin natin ay may ginagawa ang Tsina na nalalabag ang ating soberenya at mga karapatan ng soberenya [They should not approve of any inaction because the truth is the government of President is not guilty of inaction. We are not just noisy but we have taken action whenever we think China committed violations of our sovereignty and sovereign rights],” Roque said in a radio interview.
“Yung persepsiyon na dapat aktibo na pinaglalaban ang interest ng Pilipinas, tama po iyon. Dahil ang katotohanan, wala pong tigil sa paglalaban sa interest ng Pilipinas ang gobyerno ni Presidente Rodrigo Duterte [The perception on actively defending the Philippine interests is correct. Because in fact, the government of President Rodrigo Duterte has not wavered in fighting for the interest of the Philippines],” he added.
In a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, 81 percent of the respondents said it was not right for the government to leave China alone with its military buildup in the West Philippine Sea. Another 80 percent believed the government must strengthen the country’s military capability, particularly the Philippine Navy, amid the territorial conflict.
The same survey, conducted last month, also found that 74 percent of the respondents said it was right for the government to bring the issue to international organizations for diplomatic negotiations.
Roque agreed that the Filipinos must reject any government inaction in dealing with the South China Sea conflict.
“Dapat po 100% ng Filipino ay tumutol diyan, dahil tayo talaga ay hindi papayag na ang ating teritoryo ay angkinin ng ibang estado [It should 100 percent of Filipino should oppose to that because we will not allow our territory to be taken away by another state],” he said.
Roque maintained that President Duterte has repeatedly declared he would not surrender an inch of the country’s territory amid a conflict with China.
Even as protests were filed quietly against China, Roque explained Duterte chose not to go to war with China since nothing good would come out of the use of force. The government instead has chosen to pursue other areas of cooperation such as trade and investments with the Asian neighbor.
“Ang sa kanya po ay iyong mga hindi mareresolba at hindi magkakaroon ng solusyon na kaagad-agad ay isantabi muna natin at kung ano iyong pupuwede nating isulong, iyong larangan ng ekonomiya lalung-lalo na isulong natin [[For the President, those issues that cannot be resolved or cannot be given an immediate solution should be set aside and those matters that we can agree on such as the economic cooperation will be pursued],” Roque said.