Legarda echoes Duterte’s rhetoric: ‘Why go to war with China?’
Senator Loren Legarda has echoed President Rodrigo Duterte’s China rhetoric and the administration’s stand in dealing with territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
Legarda, chair of the Senate foreign relations committee, said the Philippines should not go to war with China when asked to comment on how the government is handling diplomatic rows with Beijing.
“Number one, the President is the architect of all foreign policy. Tayo ang gumagawa ng batas sa (We are the ones who make laws on) foreign policy and of course, we can give suggestions. Number two, eh tama naman. Sino ba’ng gusto ng gera? (Who wants war)?” Legarda said in an interview over DZBB on Sunday.
“There are political tensions everywhere, we are just one of the several claimant nations in the West Philippine Sea,” she added.
Opposition lawmakers have criticized the Duterte administration for its stand on China. In his speeches, the President has repeatedly said the country cannot win a war with Beijing.
But critics pointed out that war is not the only option in the sea disputes with China. They challenged the government to assert the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling in favor of the Philippines.
The lawmakers have also urged the Department of Foreign Affairs to publicize its diplomatic actions against China, and some even called for the country to bring up Beijing’s “creeping invasion“to the United Nations.
“We should exhaust all diplomatic means and uphold treaties and convention,” Legarda said.
China has refused to recognize the ruling of the The Hague-based tribunal.
Legarda said the Senate foreign relations committee will tackle the pending resolutions that seek to investigate the government’s actions and policy on China.
“I will do this not to inflame tensions,” she said, as she urged the government to exhaust all diplomatic means to resolve the dispute while asserting our right to sovereignty.
When asked if the Duterte administration is doing enough to assert ownership of the West Philippine Sea, Legarda said she thinks “we are doing all we can.”
“We can’t expect this administration to solve it now when the other administrations in the past also did not solve it,” she said.
The senator stressed the importance of keeping the lines open among the claimant countries, including China, and noted that Manila can benefit from trade partnerships with Beijing.
“In the meantime, we are trying to resolve these political tensions on boundary, bakit ‘di natin aggressively i-pursue our trade and export between our countries (Why don’t we aggressively pursue trade and export with these countries)?” she said, disclosing that she recently met with the Chinese ambassador. /ee
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