‘Silence’ of gov’t over West PH Sea ‘hit and run’ enrages De Lima
MANILA, Philippines — Opposition Senator Leila de Lima on Friday asked why the government remains silent despite clear misconduct allegedly committed by China against the Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea.
“Bakit tila tahimik sila ngayong may klarong pag-abuso na [Why are they seemingly silent now that there is a clear case of abuse],” asked De Lima who particularly questioned President Rodrigo Duterte and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.’s silence.
The senator’s reaction came in view of the reported “hit and run” incident involving a Chinese vessel in Recto Bank on Wednesday.
“Nasaan na ang tapang na pinakita nila Duterte at Locsin laban sa Canada? Nasaan na yung pull-out ng mga diplomat natin sa China? Nasaan na ang mga pagmumura sa entablado at sa Twitter ng ating magigiting na mga pinuno?” De Lima said in a dispatch from Camp Crame.
(Where’s the courage displayed by Duterte and Locsin against Canada? Where’s the pullout of our diplomat from China? Where’s the cursing on stage and on Twitter by our brave leaders?)
READ: China fishing vessel sinks Filipino boat after ‘collision’ in West Philippine Sea
She pointed out that instead of coming to the rescue of the Filipino fishermen, Locsin “jumped to the defense” of the Chinese by contradicting claims of intentionality.
De Lima also said the President addressed this issue with his “trademark deafening silence” amid Chinese aggression and misconduct.
“These are not the reactions that we need and deserve from our President and top diplomat. This sends an unfortunate message to the world that we tolerate injustice from China against our own people,” she said.
The senator warned that foreign countries may now exploit Philippine territory and undermine Philippine sovereignty since our government is not vigilant against such abuses.
“Paalala po ito na kung hindi po tayo magbabantay, may mga bansa na gaya ng China na aabusuhin tayo sa sarili nating teritoryo. Kung hindi po tayo magsasalita ay mamaliitin ng ibang bansa ang ating kasarinlan at soberanya,” she said.
(This serves as a warning that if we let our guards down, there are other countries like China that will tend to abuse us in our own territory. If we will not speak, other countries will underestimate our independence and sovereignty.)
De Lima insisted that the Chinese fishermen that committed the crime against Filipino fishermen should be brought to the Philippines to face prosecution, noting that it is not enough that Chinese government merely sanction them.
“Apologists of China would argue that this is a matter between non-State actors and that it would be sufficient that the Chinese government merely sanction the operators of the Chinese vessel. It is not enough,” she said.
“We should demand that they [Chinese fishermen] be brought here for prosecution. We should hold the Chinese government responsible for the actions of their vessels operating within our exclusive economic zone [EEZ],” De Lima added.
The senator also called for an investigation to determine the intentionality of the incident and to know what the Chinese were doing in the Philippine EEZ. (Editor: Jonathan P. Vicente)
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