‘Takbo para sa WPS’: Tolentino urges Filipinos to unite on West Philippine Sea issue

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Senate Majority Leader Francis Tolentino on Sunday, July 7, rallied Filipinos to unite on the West Philippine Sea (WPS) issue.

 

“Raising public awareness on the West Philippine Sea is key to rallying Filipinos to take a united stand on this issue,” said Tolentino, who was one of the 7,000 runners who joined the “Takbo Para sa WPS” held today at the Mall of Asia grounds in Pasay City.

 

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Senate Majority Leader Francis ‘Tol’ Tolentino says the 'Takbo para sa West Philippine Sea' (WPS) aims to raise public awareness on the issue, as well as the response and actions being undertaken by the government. Tolentino specifically cited that many young runners joined the advocacy run organized by the Philippine Coast Guard which was held Sunday morning, July 7, 2024 at the Mall of Asia grounds in Pasay City. (Photo by Office of Sen. Francis Tolentino)

 

Tolentino said the activity primarily showcases Filipino unity in response to what is happening in the country’s seas.

 

“It's good to see that many young runners participated. We are raising the level of awareness on the WPS issue,” said Tolentino, who also chairs the Senate Special Committee on Maritime and Admiralty Zones, during an interview.

 

In the same interview, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)  Jay Tarriela agreed with Tolentino, saying that the people's display of support also raises the morale of the PCG personnel, as well as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and other line agencies advancing the administration's firm position on the conflict.

 

“The mere fact that many Filipinos are looking for ways to support our fight in the WPS encourages our soldiers and uniformed personnel,” Tarriela said.

 

A Visayas and Mindanao leg of the run will be held in Cebu in August and Cagayan de Oro in September, respectively. Several local government units (LGUs) have also approached the PCG to express their interest to host a similar event.

 

“So this is already a positive sign, that even the local government units, not just here in Luzon, but even from Mindanao and Visayas, have an intention to widen our knowledge on President Marcos’ efforts in the West Philippine Sea,” Tarriela said.

 

Tolentino said Congress will continue to support the PCG, AFP and similar defense agencies supporting the WPS cause in the upcoming budget hearings.

 

“We’ll try to make some incremental increases to respond to the current needs of the Philippine Coast Guard, as well as the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” he said.

 

Tarriela, for his part, said the PCG would request lawmakers to support the funding for the creation of a National Research Fleet, which he said would allow the country to pursue its marine research program, to be led by scientists from the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UPMSI).

 

“It's about time that we support our marine scientists from the University of the Philippines by giving them a budget for the creation of a National Research Fleet. This will allow us to conduct comprehensive scientific research in order to guide our position on this issue,” Tarriela said.