Camarines Sur 2nd district Rep. LRay Villafuerte says there's one way China can prove that it really does have peaceful intentions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
And that's ceasing it's "infractions" in the Philippines' backyard.
“If China is really sincere in saying they want peace, they should stop these infractions. For me, as a Filipino, it's a direct affront to us as a people," Villafuerte, majority leader of the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA), said in a recent interview.
The veteran congressman was obviously venting over the perceived acts of aggression by Chinese vessels in the WPS, the latest of which involved one of them directing its military-grade laser at a Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) ship in Ayungjn Shoal. This incident has led to China’s rebuke by the international community.
"What they're doing right now, with the laser pointing, you know, we should deploy vessels around the contested areas," Villafuerte said.
He further reckoned that it's "not enough" for the government to file a diplomatic protest before Beijing’s Embassy in Manila over continued Chinese presence in WPS.
"I think part of the solution right now is for us to appeal to our allies ... joint border patrols.”
In connection with this, Villafuerte expressed the hope that the government could fast-track talks with allies such as the United States (US), Japan, and Australia on the proposed conduct of joint maritime patrols in the WPS, which is situated in the broader South China Sea (SCS)
“We are hoping that our Coast Guard officials could put on the fast lane the ongoing separate talks with their counterparts in our ally-countries like the US and Japan on the proposed conduct of joint maritime patrols in the WPS where Chinese vessels have had non-stop intrusions and bellicose maneuvers,” he said.
China has expansive claims in the SCS, which has caused it to butt heads other countries whose territorial waters aren within the SCS.
A July 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague invalidated Beijing’s expansive claims as laid out in its so-called "nine-dash line". The Philippines unilaterally filed and pursued the arbitration case against China.