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Solon: Time to engage allies, forge new ones

MUNTINLUPA City Rep. Ruffy Biazon has underscored the need for the country to once again participate in navy drills conducted by the United States (US) as a way to make up for the imbalance of military power between China and the Philippines.

“We can see that for a while there seemed to be a cooling off of the relationship between the Philippines and the US, but I think it’s time for us to engage our longtime allies and even possibly forge new ones. We have the international community sympathetic to our cause, and I think it’s the next step that we should be taking to make up for the imbalance of military power between China and the Philippines,” Biazon said over television interview.

“Obviously, militarily, if we compare the two, the Philippines is way behind. But we have the international community on our side, both on the legal front through the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the military front through the Department of National Defense,” he added.

“I feel that we are stepping up right now to tell the world that we are concerned, but we have some sort of handicap militarily, that is why engaging in these alliances and concerned parties would be a boost,” he further said.

Biazon, vice chair of the House committee on national defense and security, also said the Philippines should pursue diplomatic action on the presence of Chinese ships in the Julian Felipe reef and China’s harassment of a Filipino vessel ferrying local media in the West Philippine Sea, as well as continue with maritime patrols in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

“I’m happy that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has summoned the Chinese ambassador because that was one of the things that I was offering as an option. And we must pursue this, of course, in a peaceful means and in accordance with what the UNCLOS (United Nations= Convention for the Law of the Sea) provides,” he said.

Makati City Pabakuna

“But beyond that, I think the country should pursue and proceed with maritime patrols in the area. As we have experienced recently, a Philippine Air Force plane was conducting maritime patrol and it was even challenged by the Chinese and the Philippine Air Force plane asserted its right to conduct patrols. I think we should be continuing to do that,” he stressed.

Biazon said there was a possibility that because of their donation of vaccines to the Philippines, China might try to influence decisions by the Philippine with regard to the issues on the West Philippine Sea.

“Remember when there was talk about donations of vaccines going to the Armed Forces, I expressed my apprehension on that because we cannot set aside our concern on the West Philippine Sea,” he said.

“I think we should just proceed treating these two issues as parallel but that’s just my opinion. We engaged China in securing vaccines whether it’s by donation or procurement, and it is better if it’s by procurement because it’s just a business transaction, he said.

“But, of course, we should still maintain our position by asserting our rights over our Exclusive Economic Zone. I am confident that there are other allies who would be willing to help us on both issues on West Philippine sea and even the pandemic response,” he added.

The lawmaker said he filed House Resolution (HR) No. 1707, which expresses the sense of the House of Representatives in condemning the latest harassment incident by the Chinese, to send a message to the world that there are sectors in the country who are concerned with the Chinese aggression.

Publication Source :    People's Journal