Lacson still ‘thankful’ for Duterte’s ‘belated’ remark on Ayungin Shoal incident
MANILA, Philippines — Even if “belatedly” made, Senator Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday said he is “thankful” that President Rodrigo Duterte issued a “very strong” statement against China Coast Guard vessels blocking and using water cannons on Philippine supply boats.
“On top of filing diplomatic protests, we should be more assertive and I’m thankful that the President came up with a very strong statement. For the first time, we heard a strong statement from the President and what could be a more appropriate venue than the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Summit?” Lacson, who chairs the Senate defense committee, said in an interview on CNN Philippines’ “The Source.”
“Even if belatedly said, sa akin mabuti na rin na nasabi in a venue na nakikinig ‘yung Asean leaders. No matter how late, it’s still good that the President issued a strong statement, at least to awaken not just China, but other stronger allies,” he added.
Lacson said he hopes Duterte remains “consistent in asserting” the country’s sovereignty and sovereign rights over the Philippines exclusive economic zone.
“I think that’s good, that’s good enough. No matter how late, I should still thank the president for issuing that statement,” he added.
During an Asean-China special summit, Duterte said the Philippines abhors the Nov. 16 incident in the Ayungin Shoal where Philippine civilian supply boats ferrying supplies to Filipino troops stationed at BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal were “blocked and water cannoned” by China Coast Guard vessels.
“Since 2011, 211 such incidents already occurred and we have filed [protests] almost daily—exaggeration—pero ganun karami din halos yung diplomatic protests pero to no avail. And it’s only now that parang merong awakening, not only on the part of our leaders but yung sa ibang countries as well,” Lacson said.
After the Nov. 16 incident in Ayungin Shoal, Lacson, who is seeking the presidency, visited Pag-asa Island in Kalayaan, Palawan last Nov. 20.
On his way there, the plane carrying Lacson and his team were warned by the Chinese Navy.
“It wasn’t unexpected kasi even before we flew out of Puerto Princesa, I was already warned by the WesCom (Western Command) commander sabi niya ‘pwede kayo ma-challenge diyan as you approach the Pag-asa airstrip.’ We were already anticipating that we would be challenged,” the senator went on.
“It was more anger than fear. In the first place, wala namang backing out. We were within our territory,” he added.
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