Sereno: Believing foreign gov’t over fellow Filipinos a ‘betrayal of our nation’
MANILA, Philippines — Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Thursday said choosing to believe foreign government over own countrymen is a form of “betrayal.”
Sereno said this following the ramming incident in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) between a Filipino fishing boat and a Chinese vessel. The Chinese vessel reportedly abandoned the Filipino fishermen who were left floating for hours before they were rescued by a Vietnamese vessel.
“It is betrayal of our nation to give moral and political preference to the pronouncements of a foreign government or its people, over that of our kababayans. Ano pa ang halaga ng pamahalaan kung mismo ang mga kumakatawan nito ang maglalaglag ng mga interes ng mamamayan?” Sereno said.
The former Chief Justice added that “when the life or dignity of one of our own is under threat, we come to his defense.”
“Our identity, our history and our Constitution demand active and overt defense, not discombobulating statements from government,” Sereno said.
“Our fishermen of Mindoro and Zambales deserve protection in our own territory, under our own laws. Sinserong pagtanggol sa kanilang pagkatao ang kailangang marinig,” she added.
Following the incident, the Chinese government said that the crew of the Chinese vessel “tried to rescue the Filipino fishermen, but was afraid of being besieged by other Filipino boats.”
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo also took note of the conflicting statements of the Filipino vessel’s captain Junel Insigne, and the vessel’s cook Richard Blaza, particularly on whether or not the ramming incident was accidental or intentional.
“Kasi parang may conflict ‘yung kapitan at ‘yung cook. Kasi tingin ng kapitan, sinadya. Tingin ng cook, mukhang hindi nakita,” Panelo said in a press briefing.
No one wants war, but no one wants cowardice
Sereno added that while no one wants war to take place, no one wants cowardice either as she insisted to fight for the lives and dignity of Filipinos.
“Hinihingi ng taumbayan, lalo na ng kabataan ang katarungan para sa lahing Pilipino. Walang gusto ng giyera, ngunit wala ring gusto ng kaduwagan. Buhay at dignidad ng Pilipino, ipaglaban,” Sereno said.
“Masusi nating pag-usapan ang isyung ito sa ating paaralan, grupo at komunidad. Lumahok tayo sa mga forum at iba pang mga inisyatiba. Makiisa sa pagtatanggol ng Pilipino at West Philippine Sea,” Sereno added.
Senator Panfilo Lacson earlier said the government should not wait for armed aggression to happen in the WPS before invoking the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the Philippines and the United States (US).
“As I said in my tweet, I am not praying for World War III, but at least a strong presence of the US Pacific fleet in the WPS can make China feel the balance of power in that area,” Lacson said.
Panelo, however, rejected this call saying that it would be “irresponsible” to invoke the treaty without establishing the facts regarding the incident.
“Thus, invoking the strong medicine of the MDT at this time when facts about the maritime incident in our exclusive economic zone have not yet been firmly established would not only be imprudent, it would be irresponsible as well,” said Panelo. (Editor: Jonathan P. Vicente)
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