Duterte told to raise PH flag, not 'white flag of surrender' amid WPS disputes | Global News

Duterte told to raise PH flag, not ‘white flag of surrender’ amid WPS disputes

/ 01:42 PM April 20, 2021

Duterte wants 'peaceful resolution' to rift over Julian Felipe Reef – Palace

Around 220 Chinese militia vessels were spotted moored at Julian Felipe Reef (Whitsun) in the West Philippine Sea last March 7, 2021. (NTF WPS)

MANILA, Philippines — Two senators on Tuesday said the Philippines cannot afford to “raise the white flag” on the country’s territorial disputes with China in the West Philippine Sea.

“We are not out of options in dealing with the situation. We should raise the Philippine flag in our territory, not the white flag of surrender,” Senator Grace Poe said in a statement.


“We must protect what rightfully belongs to our people. Asserting our sovereignty, protecting our fisherfolk, and managing our natural resources are not a declaration of war,” she added.


Poe pointed out that the country should explore all options in asserting the Philippines’ sovereignty, including seeking the assistance of neighboring countries and allies.

“We should bring more international attention to the issue.By merely being critical of the massing up of foreign vessels in the West Philippine Sea, we’ve already seen movement among our allies,” she said.

“More Filipinos are braving the frontlines to expose the situation in our waters. With the stronger stance displayed by the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) and the DND (Department of National Defense) on the matter, the number of vessels in the area has been reduced,” she added.

Poe’s statement comes after President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night said that the only way to assert the country’s ownership of the West Philippine Sea is to use force.

FILE PHOTO: First shipment of COVID-19 vaccine arrives in Philippines

President Rodrigo Duterte  (REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez)


Senator Panfilo Lacson said the President’s stance may be implied as a sign of surrender, which he added could be “disastrous” to the country’s sovereignty.


“He’s the leader of our country and he’s the commander-in-chief of our armed forces. He can think of anything and speak about anything except surrender. Remember, we have an arbitral ruling in our favor and it’s permanent although it’s unenforceable. There are so many things to think about except surrender. We cannot wave the white flag, so to speak,” Lacson, chairman of the Senate defense committee, said in an interview on CNN Philippines.

Panfilo Lacson

Sen. Panfilo Lacson (File photo by CATHY MIRANDA / INQUIRER.net)

“I am not saying the President is actually raising the white flag but that’s the implication. If the officers and men of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) would take it that way, it could be disastrous to Philippine sovereignty,” he added.

Stronger alliances

Lacson stressed that the Philippines can build stronger alliances with other countries such as Japan, which he said is a natural ally because it has a territorial issue with China.

Further, he noted that the United States and Japan have already expressed willingness to build much stronger alliances with the Philippines.

He added the Philippines can conduct joint military exercises with other countries like the U.S. and even Australia.

“So let’s work along that line. We should not feel we’re alone. We cannot really win a war against China. Population-wise less than 1/10 tayo ng China. And military-wise, talagang no contest,” Lacson said.

“But why would we sulk in a corner and think along that line when there are stronger countries, even Europe, they are willing to assist us through the European Union?” he added.

China ships

The latest rift in the West Philippine Sea between Manila and Beijing unfolded after the Philippine Coast Guard, last March 21, reported that about 220 Chinese ships were spotted in line formation near Julian Felipe Reef, which is part of the Philippine’s exclusive economic zone.

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Close up view of fishing vessels anchored at Whitsun Reef, which Manila calls the Julian Felipe Reef, in this Maxar handout satellite image taken March 23, 2021. Satellite image (copyright) 2021 Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS  

The DFA has already warned China of daily diplomatic protests over the continued presence of Chinese vessels in the country’s maritime territories.


For comprehensive coverage, in-depth analysis, and the latest updates on the West Philippine Sea issue, visit our special site here. Stay informed with articles, videos, and expert opinions.

TAGS: Duterte, Senator Grace Poe, Senator Panfilo Lacson, West Philippine Sea

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