Senators welcome adoption of ‘strategic concept’ on West Phil. Sea

Published August 24, 2020, 3:26 PM

by Mario Casayuran

The Senate welcomed on Monday a proposal of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for the adoption of a “strategic concept’’ to protect the country’s maritime interests in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) by including other government agencies in this endeavor.


Facing members of the national defense committee of the bicameral Commission on Appointments (CA) chaired by Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr. said the military establishment acknowledges the constitutional authority of the President to chart the country’s foreign policy.

The CA, during is plenary session presided by Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III, later confirmed the  appointment of Parlade and 14 other AFP ranking officers.

What is needed to protect the country’s maritime interest following the rejection by the United Nations Arbitration Court of China’s “historical’’ claim over most parts of the South China Sea, including the WPS , is “political will,’’ Parlade stressed.

Parlade said the protection of the country’s maritime interests and sovereignty should not be dependent upon the Armed Forces of the Philippines alone but should include, under ‘’strategic’’ concept, other government agencies such as the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Department of Transportation (DOTr) and Bureau of Immigration (BI), among others.

‘’We deal with his political issue at the back of our heads,’’ he added.

On Hontiveros’ query regarding the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),  Parlade said he supports efforts to establish international archipelagic sea lanes that should be open for all.

As China continues to reject the UN arbitration ruling, the US has been taunting China’s claimed ownership over most parts of the South China Sea by sending its Navy to pass through the seas under the principle of innocent passage.

The AFP, according to Parlade, should not be faulted for the current territorial claims by both China and the Philippines in the WPS because the AFP, as early as 2013, had notified the executive branch of the start of the reclamation of the parts of the Philippine-claimed WPS.

These were documented, Parlade said, adding that the current China-Philippine territorial claim could have been averted.

The Philippines is conceded to be an ant compared to the elephant size of China’s economy and military.

‘’We abide by what the President will tell us,’’ Parlade added.

While the present foreign policy is designed for peace and stability in the WPS, Parlde said the military establishment is not foregoing the UN arbitral tribunal ruling upholding the Philippines’ sovereignty claim over its expanded economic zone.