Philippines should beef up military, economy amid maritime tension with China – Gordon
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government should beef up its military and economy amid the prevailing maritime tension with China, Senator Richard Gordon said on Thursday.
“We must strengthen our economy, our industry and at the same time strengthen the military. Because we cannot enforce ourselves upon this bigger nations,” Gordon told reporters during a weekly press forum at the Senate in Pasay City.
President Rodrigo Duterte, the senator suggested, should convene the National Security Council to discuss matters concerning national security over disputed waters.
“The President must…call the National Security Council regularly because we are in this pickle. We are always on this fight with the Chinese,” Gordon said.
The senator’s statement came following the President’s pronouncement that he had an agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping to allow China to fish in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) after Beijing granted Filipino fishermen access to Scarborough Shoal.
Duterte has repeatedly underscored the friendship between Manila and Beijing.
Due to this friendship, the President said Chinese fishermen will not be barred should they decide to fish in Philippine territorial water.
The President made the statement weeks after a Chinese trawler reportedly rammed a Philippine fishing boat at Recto (Reed) Bank in the West Philippines Sea and abandoned 22 Filipino fishermen at sea for hours.
In 2016, the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines’ sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea, a ruling China refused to recognize.
Duterte has chosen to set aside the ruling and engage China in bilateral talks. (Editor: Mike U. Frialde)
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