Senators air frustration over China’s aggression in West Philippine Sea
MANILA, Philippines — Senators Raffy Tulfo and Jinggoy Estrada on Monday lamented China’s continued aggression in the West Philippine Sea, leading them to ask Philippine government agencies if a condemnation is all that the country can do amid these persisting incursions.
“Hanggang condemnation na lang tayo [Condemnation is all we can do],” Tulfo said when he was told by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Department of National Defense, in a public hearing held Monday, that their initial action following China’s water cannon attack in Ayungin Shoal was to issue a statement of condemnation.
Estrada, who was presiding over the public hearing, quipped that the Philippines “does not have the ability to fight” against China, adding that the only thing that it can do is to “file diplomatic protests that always fall in deaf ears.”
“Ipagpasa-Diyos na lang natin siguro. Mag pray na lang tayo na sana ay maaawa ang Panginoon at hindi na maulit yun,” Tulfo answered.
(Let’s just leave it to God. Let’s just pray that the Lord will have mercy and it won’t happen again.)
Following these remarks, Tulfo asked the DND to lay out the actions being done apart from repeated condemnations.
“Aside from the strong condemnation, actually [our] counterpart — our [Defense and Armed Forces Attaché] in China is also sending aggressive messages against the people in China. [Besides] that, the diplomatic protest is always being carried out by the Department of Foreign Affairs [which is] fully supported by DND,” said DND Senior Undersecretary Ireneo Espino.
Undersecretary Hans Mohaimin Siriban, acting deputy undersecretary of DFA’s Bilateral Relations and ASEAN Affairs, said the DFA and other members of the national task force are “fully aware” of the reports and circumstances that have happened.
“We share the concerns of AFP and PCG who were directly affected by the incidents. We are undertaking all diplomatic measures with regards to this incident. Both in our embassy in Beijing and here in DFA, we are coordinating with relevant counterparts,” said Siriban.
DFA Spokesperson Teresita Daza, in a press conference held Monday afternoon, confirmed that a diplomatic protest has been filed against China over this water cannon incident.
Daza said the DFA summoned Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian on Monday morning to tackle the recent case of incursion. The DFA official likewise disclosed that 35 note verbales have already been raised against China in 2023 alone.