Press Release
February 15, 2023

Cayetano: Government should strengthen, simplify national strategy on West Philippine Sea

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday urged the government to strengthen and simplify its strategy in dealing with issues on the West Philippine Sea, saying the latest skirmish with China as reported by the Philippine Coast Guard is just "a symptom" of a more complicated underlying problem.

"We should not tolerate any form of aggression. The issue [of the West Philippine Sea] is complicated, but let us simplify it," Cayetano, who served as Secretary of Foreign Affairs during the Duterte administration, said on February 14, 2023.

On Monday, the Philippine Coast Guard reported that a Chinese Coast Guard vessel twice directed a military grade laser-light toward the BRP Malapascua, forcing the latter to retreat from a resupply mission near Ayungin Shoal.

In response, the Department of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday condemned China's "act of aggression" and filed a diplomatic protest for its coast guard's use of laser glare that caused temporary blindness on the Filipino crew.

"Iyan pong nakikita natin na skirmishes at problema, iyan po ay mga sintomas," Cayetano said. "Let us go to the heart of the problem and find a framework na mapag-usapan iyan."

The independent senator noted that other countries that have dispute issues in the West Philippine Sea like Malaysia and Vietnam have already strengthened their national strategies, including diplomacy and strengthening their armed forces and alliances with other countries.

He said in contrast, the Philippines has been changing its policies with each new administration.

"Ang naging problema ng Pilipinas ay pabago-bago ang ating strategy. Every other administration ay hindi lang nagbabago ang strategy, pero may wild swings tayo. That's the disadvantage," he said.

The advantage, however, is that the country has already tried both approaches and can now move forward with a better perspective.

At the same time, Cayetano maintained that the government should assert itself in the West Philippine Sea and not tolerate aggression not just from China but other countries whose presence in the area is growing.

"Actually ang nakikita nila ay y'ung conflict natin with China. But y'ung lumalaki rin na presence, including military presence, of Malaysia and Vietnam is also concerning for me," he said.

In drafting the national strategy, Cayetano said the government should deliberate on whether exercises with other countries in the West Philippine Sea really help or aggravate the situation here and in the long term.

"Ngayon, may usapan na ulit with the US. Hindi ko sinasabing tama o mali, good or bad. I am saying it changes the equation of the game. So if you are going to do that [joint exercises] with the US, you will have to have a mechanism in talking with the Chinese kasi kung hindi, maa-aggravate," he said.

"Dito po sa ating side ng mundo, kailangan magkaroon ng strategy at usapan among allies," he added.


Cayetano: Dapat palakasin at gawing simple ang national strategy para sa West Philippine Sea

Hinimok ni Senador Alan Peter Cayetano ang gobyerno na palakasin at gawing simple ang pambansang stratehiya sa pagharap sa mga isyu ng West Philippine Sea sa gitna ng bagong insidente kung saan nanutok ng military-grade laser light ang isang Chinese Coast Guard vessel sa crew ng BRP Malapascua.

Ayon kay Cayetano, isang sintomas lamang itong pinakahuling insidente ng mas komplikadong problema.

"We should not tolerate any form of aggression. The issue [of the West Philippine Sea] is complicated, but let us simplify it," wika niya nitong February 14, 2023.

Noong nakaraang Lunes, iniulat ng Philippine Coast Guard na dalawang beses tinutukan ng Chinese Coast Guard gamit ang military grade laser-light ang BRP Malapascua kaya't napilitan itong umurong sa resupply mission malapit sa Ayungin Shoal.

Bilang tugon, kinundena ng Department of Foreign Affairs ang China sa kanilang "act of aggression." Nagsampa rin ito ng isang diplomatic protest dahil delikado ang naging paggamit ng laser sa barko ng mga Pilipino.

"Iyan pong nakikita natin na skirmishes at problema, iyan po ay mga sintomas," sabi ni Cayetano, na naging Secretary of Foreign Affairs sa ilalim ng Duterte administration.

"Let us go to the heart of the problem and find a framework na mapag-usapan iyan," dagdag niya.

Ayon sa senador, pinalakas na ng mga bansang may interes sa West Philippine Sea tulad ng Malaysia at Vietnam ang kani-kanilang national strategy tulad ng diplomacy, pagpapalakas ng kanilang armed forces, at pagbuo ng mga alyansa kasama ang ibang bansa.

Ang Pilipinas naman, aniya, ay paiba-iba ang polisiya kada palit ng administrasyon.

"Ang naging problema ng Pilipinas ay pabago-bago ang ating strategy. Every other administration ay hindi lang nagbabago ang strategy, pero may wild swings tayo. That's the disadvantage," wika ni Cayetano.

Gayunpaman, ang lamang ng bansa ay nasubukan na ang parehong paraan at maaaring gumawa ng bagong stratehiya ng mas maayos na pananaw.

Sinabi rin ni Cayetano na dapat tumindig ang gobyerno sa West Philippine Sea at huwag nitong hayaan ang agresyon ng China at iba pang bansa.

"Actually ang nakikita nila ay 'yung conflict natin with China. But 'yung lumalaki rin na presence, including military presence, of Malaysia and Vietnam is also concerning for me," wika niya.

Sa paggawa ng national strategy, sinabi rin ni Cayetano na dapat pag-isipan ng gobyerno kung makakatulong ba ang pagsama sa joint exercises sa ibang bansa, at kung talaga bang nakakatulong ito o nakakalala ng sitwasyon.

"Ngayon, may usapan na ulit with the US. Hindi ko sinasabing tama o mali, good or bad. I am saying it changes the equation of the game. So if you are going to do that [joint exercises] with the US, you will have to have a mechanism in talking with the Chinese kasi kung hindi, maa-aggravate," aniya.

"Dito po sa ating side ng mundo, kailangan magkaroon ng strategy at usapan among allies," dagdag niya.

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