Press Release
November 25, 2021

WPS issue should be in the top 5 of candidates' platforms - De Lima

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima believes that the West Philippine Sea issue should be in the top 5 of presidential and senatorial candidates' platforms for the 2022 polls as it proves their priority to protect national interests over their own.

This was articulated on her behalf by UP and Ateneo Law Professor former Dean Antonio La Viña who represented De Lima during the Online Talk Show "The West Philippine Sea CATCH - The West Philippine Sea and Its Importance as an Election Issue" Part 2. Speaking for De Lima, La Viña said candidates' stand on WPS issue can be an indicator of their loyalty to the country and their countrymen.

"Our leaders are vying for the voters' mandate to lead the country and protecting national interests from enemies from within and without has to be the priority and it's really what the West Philippine Sea issue was all about. With all its far-reaching repercussions that I talk about," he said.

The online forum, which was organized by the National Youth Movement for the West Philippine Sea (NYMWPS), was held last Nov. 20.

As a Senator who is now seeking reelection, De Lima has been firm on her stand on the issue, as she tirelessly called out the Duterte administration's refusal to strongly invoke our sovereign rights over the WPS.

La Viña said that among the far-reaching repercussions of the candidates' refusal to defend the country's territorial integrity include problems on national security and sovereignty, real and immediate economic impact on individual fishermen and the general population, as well as environmental and diplomatic implications.

"You have all of these different issues but they can be tied up in the whole issue of integrity for personal integrity, but also national integrity including of our territory," he said.

Asked how Filipinos, particularly the youth could determine that a certain candidate is sincere in his or her promises while campaigning about the issue on the WPS, La Viña, stressing that he speaks for De Lima, said the best solution is self-awareness, critical thinking, thorough research, and engagement with others who might have different views.

"You know the old adage still holds true, yung sinasabi natin noon pa man: 'actions speak louder than words'. Kailangan mong tingnan yung record ng isang kandidato. Look at what candidates do, not just what they say. The truth is, promises are meant to be broken, but real actions last longer and go farther in showing a person's true intentions," he said.

"Think critically and think like a candidate. If a candidate seems to have so much resources - financial and expertise in manipulating social media algorithms - that could not be adequately explained by their, you know, their party's resources, then remember where the money is coming from. Find out where the money's coming from," he added.

Ultimately, La Viña encouraged the youth to really come out and understand what's happening in the society.

"Voters must be self-aware, knowing what is happening, knowing themselves as well on whether they are just part of an echo chamber, part of, nadala lang, as we say in Filipino, napipilitan lang, nadadala lang sa mga echo chambers. Huwag magpabola," La Viña said.

Last April, De Lima filed Proposed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 694 urging the government's Executive branch to exert all legal and diplomatic actions on the Chinese government to assert Philippine sovereign rights in the WPS.

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