Lacson welcomes Locsin’s statement on West Philippine Sea

Published August 28, 2020, 6:03 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson on Friday welcomed Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. for saying he would “strongly” recommend the termination of contracts between the government and Chinese companies involved in reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea.

Senator Panfilo M. Lacson (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Lacson said such statement coming from the country’s top diplomat is a welcome development particularly since the Chinese government is again displaying “arrogance” in the disputed maritime region.

“Kudos to DFA Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin for putting the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman in his place. Banning us from sending our military aircraft into airspace near Panatag Shoal surely deserves a strong rebuke. I’m proud that our top foreign policy implementor did it. Indeed it’s long in coming by way of a statement from our DFA Secretary,” Lacson said in a statement.

“China’s recent display of arrogance in the WPS by accusing us of infringing on China’s sovereignty and security by sending our military aircraft into air space adjacent to Panatag Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc, even urging the Philippine side to immediately stop illegal provocations tops it all,” added the senator.

Locsin made the statement following the United States announcement it will impose sanctions and restrictions on two dozen Chinese companies and associated officials involved in the building of artificial islands in the disputed waters.

China has been insisting on its claims in the South China Sea (SCS), including parts of the West Philippine Sea.

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian recently said the Philippines violated their sovereignty and security by sending military aircraft into airspace near islands and reefs they occupy.

“If I find that any of those companies are doing business with us, I would strongly recommend that we terminate that relationship with the company,” Locsin had said in an interview over CNN Philippines.

Locsin said that if they are in any way involved in the reclamation, it becomes “consistent on the part of the Philippines to terminate any contract with them.”

Earlier, the DFA chief took exception to a Chinese foreign minister’s comment  welcoming the Philippines’ decision not to join the US-led joint naval exercises in the SCS.

Locsin said Chinese ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin should “not read too” much into Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s announcement that the Philippines would participate with other countries, including the US, in maritime drills in the South China Sea.