A CONGRESSMAN on Monday urged the Duterte administration to send the Coast Guard and escort Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea.
This was the challenge issued by Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate to the Duterte administration, even as he strongly condemned the Chinese coastguards for allegedly harassing and taking the catch of Filipino fishermen in Bajo de Masinloc.
In a statement sent to the Gold Star Daily, the Bayan Muna representative also scored the Duterte administration for what he said was its “lackadaisical actions in defending our Filipino fishermen and national sovereignty.”
“We call on the Duterte administration to send the Philippine coast guards to accompany or escort our hapless fisherfolks at Bajo de Masinloc or in the other areas where we have valid claims in the West Philippine Sea. We have to show China that we are serious in defending our people as well as our territory. Our officials should always assert our independence, instead of them acting as apologists for China, who apparently now treat the Philippines as her vassal state,” he said.
Zarate said China has apparently been treating the Duterte administration as a push over by doing what they want in Bajo de Masinloc and the rest of the West Philippine Sea without nary a whimper from Malacanang.
“We are not saying that we declare war on China. But what we need is for Malacanang to stand up for our fisherfolks and our territory. We have already suggested in the past the filing of a diplomatic protest and increasing patrols of our seas, among others. One thing is clear though, the government must do something now to stop this invasion of China,” he said.
Zarate also assailed the plan of the United States to intensify and expand its naval patrols in the West Philippine Sea in a bid to challenge China’s military build-up in the area.
“The situation in the WPS is already getting serious. The US and China should stop their sabre rattling so as to lessen the tension in the area. The Philippines along with other claimants in the area are in a situation akin to having two bullies in their backyard raring for a fight and thrash each other without regard for the backyard or the houses nearby,” he said.
Zarate added: “We are again calling our neighbors and fellow claimants like Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia together with the Philippines to band together and stand up against these bullies. We are also asking the international community to step in and pressure the US and China to demilitarize and de-escalate the tension in the region.”