FILE PHOTO: Armed Forces of the Philippines
“So, for the information of China, we will not place there any offensive weapons not even one gun. We are just there to claim the island for us because that is really ours,” said President Rodrigo Duterte.
President Rodrigo Duterte once again assured China that the Philippines remains a friend.
This, following his pronouncement of his intention to formally occupy the islands in the South China Sea owned by the Philippines.
However, for maritime law expert and University of the Philippines professor Atty. Jay Batongbacal, the AFP personnel is at a disadvantage if no military equipment will be placed on these islands.
“Kung sasabihin niyang na ngayon na wala ni isang baril, ibig sabihin pati self-defense weapons…mukhang kailangang aalisin pa rin…magiging dehado tayo…kahit dumami sila sa Pag-asa Island…eh wala silang abilidad na depensahan ang sarili nila,” he said.
(If the President says there won’t even be a gun on those islands, it means even self-defense weapons will not be available. It would seem we will be at a disadvantage. Even if there will be a lot of military personnel on Pag-asa Island, they won’t be able to defend themselves.)
The professor said the Philippines cannot balance the geopolitical situation in the South China Sea anymore since China has been constructing several manmade islands in the South China Sea.
“Patuloy na nagpalakas ang China, pinalaki niya ang isla run at naglagay siya duon ng self-defense weapons at latest reports… hindi ko nakikita ang pangtabla sa geopolitical situation dahil nagbago na ito at yun dehado na tayo,” Batongbacal added. (China is strengthening its force in the area, placing self-defense weapons. I cannot see any factor to balance the geopolitical situation since everything has changed and we are at a disadvantage.)
This would imply betrayal to the right of the Philippines to uphold the arbitral tribunal’s decision on the disputed territory.
Based on the Pulse Asia survey in March 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte received the lowest points in public approval rating on issues concerning defending the integrity of the Philippine territory against foreigners. — Rosalie Coz | UNTV News & Rescue
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