Former Philippines socio-economic planning chief Ernesto Pernia said the country’s next president should “vigorously defend” the West Philippine Sea (WPS). The former member of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Cabinet emphasized that the country has been losing much in the WPS.
Pernia insisted that the leader who succeeds President Duterte should focus on the issue to avoid losing more in the disputed region. He said on Twitter that the country’s next president must vigorously defend what are ours, with no “ifs and buts”.
The former National Economic and Development Authority secretary’s tweet prompted some replies implying whether the current leader — his former boss, President Duterte — was not doing enough to secure assets in the WPS. But President Duterte and his administration have been receiving flak for supposedly prioritizing cozy relations with China over sovereignty issues.
Former Supreme Court senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and former Foreign Affairs secretary Albert del Rosario both said that President Duterte must use the historic win of the Philippines before the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) against China. The PCA said that China’s nine-dash line claim has no historical and legal basis. And that the Philippines has exclusive rights over the WPS, according to that July 2016 decision, President Duterte however maintained that the only way to retake WPS is through force and a war would be too costly for the Philippines.
He also repeatedly said that his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, has warned him of possible military conflict should the Philippines push its claims over the disputed waters. In a televised talk before, President Duterte even said that the Philippines’ court win over China “is just a paper; that can be thrown in the waste basket”.