Opposition Senator Leila de Lima on Thursday, April 15, urged the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to reevaluate its stance on the West Philippine Sea (WPS), noting how its loyalty to the country is starting to waver in favor of following the Duterte administration’s pro-China policy.
De Lima made the remark after the AFP awarded ABS-CBN reporter Chiara Zambrano and her team for raising awareness on Chinese incursions into the country’s maritime territories in the WPS a few days after calling her out for her “insatiable desire” for a scoop.
The senator noted that instead of following the lead of Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr., the Western Command (WesCom) chose to “speak and make excuses for the Chinese Navy missile boats that chased down” the team of Filipino journalists.
“This is how confused this government and its AFP is when it comes to China. Not even the presence of an American carrier force right at China’s doorstep sending signals for China to stand down has consolidated the AFP’s resolve to defend the country and, just for once, have the balls to stand up to China,” De Lima said in her latest statement.
De Lima lamented that even with the US Secretary Antony Blinken’s declaration, US aircraft carriers with the US Navy’s latest F35B stealth fighters in the WPS, and the Balikatan exercises already ongoing, the AFP apparently cannot shake off its terror over China that it has imbibed and inherited from the President.
“For all their education and training at the premier military institution of the country, our PMAers (Philippine Military Academy graduates) in the AFP seem to have lost all lessons on strategic thinking, and are now bitterly confined to a parochial world-view limited by the dictates of the hand that feeds them,” she said.
De Lima hopes that with Duterte’s term ending next year, the AFP can immediately “regain its shaky loyalty to the Republic” and that the damage Duterte has wreaked on the military institution has not yet become irreversible.
“That might be wishful thinking, but we have no option but to rehabilitate this present general staff of the AFP because our country has only one AFP who will defend us against China,” the lawmaker further pointed out.
“Either that, or we start accepting our fate in this region as just another one of China’s satellites after Laos and Cambodia,” she lamented.