‘Seek help from stronger allies,’ Gordon asks gov’t amid presence of Chinese vessels in WPS

Published April 3, 2021, 7:08 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Richard Gordon advised the Philippine government to seek help from its “stronger” allies to address the continued presence of Chinese vessels in the West Philippines Sea (WPS).

Senator Richard Gordon (ALI VICOY / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
Senator Richard Gordon (ALI VICOY / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

“Friendships and alliances are important, and we must seek help from stronger allies when we need to before it is too late,” Gordon said on Twitter Saturday, April 3.

The senator, who has been vocal against China’s incursions in the WPS, noted that there have been several encounters between Filipino and Chinese vessels in the area.

“In the last 10 years, there have been 25 encounters between Philippine and Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea. Our fishermen have been harassed, their catch stolen, their boats destroyed and sunk leaving them stranded floating at sea and our own Navy’s boats have been threatened,” he lamented.

“We cannot sit around doing nothing while China little by little attempts to occupy our territory,” he pointed out.

Gordon, however, said the Philippines must also “work towards being able to impose ourselves when necessary to protect our territory.”

“We must strengthen our economy so that we can build a stronger military and defend ourselves against bigger nations,” he appealed.

On Saturday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana  issued a strongly-worded statement reiterating the Philippines’ demand for China to recall the 44 Chinese vessels to leave the Julian Felipe Reef, which is located about 175 nautical miles west of Bataraza, Palawan, and is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf.

“I am no fool. The weather has been good so far, so they have no other reason to stay there. These vessels should be on their way out. Umalis na kayo diyan (Leave),” Lorenzana said.

The national task force on the WPS, however, found out that that majority of the 220 Chinese fishing vessels initially spotted at the Julian Felipe Reef did not leave the Philippines’ EEZ, and were only dispersed in various areas of the WPS.

 
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