Press Release
August 7, 2023

SP Zubiri: Privilege Speech: CCG Water Cannon Attack on PCG
07 August 2023

I stand here today to stand with our Coast Guard men and women as they face hostile actions by intruders right on our very own seas.

I stand here today in support of our troops of the BRP Sierra Madre who have endured years of blockade by interlopers who mistakenly think that by denying our boys food they will also bring down their morale.

I stand here today in solidarity with our fishermen, who have been blocked from the rich waters, which are legally and historically ours, by a swarm of gunboats dispatched from the Great Wall of Sand.

I stand here today to articulate the hurt and the hopes of a people whose rights have been trampled by a bully who refuses to stand down.

We have been cautioned, my dear colleagues, not to meddle on matters which by some theory is the realm of the executive.

We are often reminded that "politics stops at the water's edge," meaning discussions on politics should remain within our borders. We respect that foreign affairs is a business solely pursued by the President.

But how can we not speak up when the very troops who secure our borders and stand on harm's way have been airing their disgust?

How can we remain mute when one nation after another has been voicing out their full-throated condemnation of yet another provocation against our Coast Guard peacefully navigating on our seas?

How can we not echo the anger of a people against heinous acts on the high seas, committed with impunity by a party squatting on territory that is ours, if we want to be true to our mandate?

Kung tikom ang ating bibig at bahag ang ating buntot, paano tayo magiging Senado ng Taumbayan kung ayaw nating bigyang boses ang kanilang hinagpis?

My dear colleagues:

Last week's provocative, illegal, and dangerous maneuvers by a Chinese Coast Guard vessel on a Philippine Coast Guard supply boat is the latest manifestation of its "might vs. right" treatment of its peaceful neighbors.

It is a show of its diplomatic duplicity: of professing friendship, but practicing hostile behavior.

Bobolahin tayo nila na kaibigan daw sila natin. Tapos sa isang iglap bobombahin ng tubig ang ating mga barko.

How can they convince us as that their sincere when one day they shower a former President of ours with praises and assurances in Beijing, and then shortly after, the next day, they fire water cannons on our ships.

At ang ganyang pagtrato hindi lang ginagawa nila sa mga Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas, pero ang masakit, ginawa din sa mga Baroto o Banca ng Mangingisdang Pilipino.

This incident reaffirms the merit of the resolution the Senate has unanimously passed last week.

That resolution illuminates the way forward.

Because China contemptuously ignores protests, all the more that we have to rally the world to condemn acts which have no place in a civilized order.

This is a defining moment for this Senate.

Today, we join the nation in standing its ground, from the front, in need be, and longer from the rear.

And I want to go back to the picture of the Philippines again, from Ayungin Shoal and Pag-asa. Mas malayo po ang Pag-asa Island kaysa Ayungin Shoal. Napaka-klaro na ang Ayungin Shoal ay nasa loob ng ating Exclusive Economic Zone.

Bakit nagsasabi ang Tsina na kanila po ang lugar na ito, na napakalayo ng Tsina--600 nautical miles away from Hainan Province. No rhyme nor reason, no logical explanation, that they can say that this is theirs--kasi kakalabas lang sa CNN na sinabi nila na iyan ay indisputable territory ng Tsina. How can that possibly be? They're the only country that acknowledges that. No other country acknowledges that they own that portion of the South China Sea--the West Philippine Sea.

China is a titan, that is a given. Their military expenditure alone is 70 times that of ours. We are even more dwarfed in terms of ships built. We are outmanned and outgunned.

The peace we seek will not grow from the barrel of our guns.

But what we lack in force, we have in law and in goodwill. Sa puso ng ating mga kababayan. Diba kung sa basketball pa, sabi natin, kaya ba natin talunin 'yung malalaking mga basketball teams? Ang sabi namin, lalabanan natin sila gamit ang ating puso.

The international system remains one of law, and in this we have the advantage. Might does not make right, and neither does it make fiction a reality.

The Hague Tribunal is fully in our favor, and so is the rest of the world.

They cannot turn away, for they have skin in the game. One third of global shipping passes through the South China Sea, the West Philippine Sea. The world will not allow that it be turned into a Chinese koi pond.

If China is left undeterred, they can--and will--put a choke hold on the global trade.

We welcome the influence of all nations who can help secure our seas.

Despite all this, we have retained friendly relations with China amidst this dispute. Even in the midst of contention, we deliberate with them.

Disagreements should not foreclose engagement.

Pero 'yun nga ang sinabi ko noong isang araw--China, bakit napakahirap kang kaibiganin? At napakahirap mong mahalin. Kung gusto mo makipag- kaibigan sa ating bansa, bakit napakahirap na gawin po ito, dahil sa mga ginagawa niyong mga atraso sa atin?

We have filed protests and note verbales--again today, another note verbal was sent to Beijing�in the hundreds, too many to count, but enough, I think, to giftwrap its embassy here with the paper it was written on.

Although they have repaid our hospitality with hostility, harassment and hosing down of our ships, we do not give up on the hope that it is weaned of its bullying ways and with the world's help and influence to finally recognize our sovereignty in our very own waters.

By simply following the rules, particularly of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, as expected of a member of nations and signatory to this, China can make the West Philippine Sea a zone of peace, a place of progress, and an example of coexistence.

These recent events should define this Senate. We must join the nation in standing its ground, by being at the forefront of discussions, and no longer on the sidelines or from the rear.

Although none of us here champion hostility, nor endorse the very tactics that we condem, but all of us here are tired of the status quo. Paulit-ulit na lang itong nangyayari sa ating Coast Guard at sa ating mga mangingisda.

On the search for better strategies, I urge the Executive to run the point, using all viable tools at its disposal, such as a possible joint patrol over the West Philippine Sea with our allies, and the ones we have enumerated in our resolution.

Sa ating magigiting na Coast Guard at mga sundalo, maraming salamat sa inyong katatagan at katapangan.

Katulad ng ating taos-pusong kinakanta sa ating Pambansang Awit--"Sa manlulupig 'di ka pasisiil."

Saludo kami sa inyong serbisyo at sakripisyo--at hindi namin kayo pababayaan lumaban na mag-isa. Kasama niyo kami sa pagtindig laban sa mga pilit na nanghihimasok sa ating bansa.

At kasama niyo kami sa pagtindig para sa tunay na malayang Pilipinas. Mabuhay po kayo, at mabuhay ang ating mahal na Pilipinas.

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