By Macon Araneta i FilAm Star Correspondent
Senators said calling on the United States would not amount to provoking China to go to war with the Philippines.
“That is an option. I am not advocating it but all options should be (examined),” said Sen. Richard Gordon.
“Kung maiipit ako ipapasok ko yan, they don’t have to have bases. Come over,” he also said.
If the US bases are in the country, Gordon said China cannot bully the Philippines. He said it is the country’s prerogative to allow their ships to come in, repair and refuel.
“They come in during balikatan,” said Gordon, but he has doubts if the US still wants their bases in the country. “Not anymore — they are easy targets,” he added.
Senate Majority Leader Ralph Recto also downplayed fears that involving the US would be tempting war with China.
“A multi-lateral diplomatic approach is good for the Philippines,” he said.
Liberal Party Francis Pangilinan said talk of war is unfounded.
He related that Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam all have asserted sovereignty in disputed waters repeatedly and yet no war has been declared by any of these countries.
“To say that asserting our legitimate claim over our exclusive economic zone will lead to war is meant to justify our subservience and docility,” stressed Pangilinan.
He considered this unacceptable. He said Indonesia and Vietnam are better because they fought for their fishermen.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson said calling on the United States to help check China in the West Philippine Sea is proper given the prevailing circumstances “contrary to some narrow-minded critics that such move is a sure formula for war.”
He said maintaining the balance of power in the West Philippine Sea will prevent rather that ignite war.
“Why? No two superpowers would go to war in this day and age of nuclear technology for the simple reason of its ‘zero-sum’ outcome,” he also said.
He also described as a good development that the President has subsequently corrected himself by saying that he cannot prevent incursions of foreign fishing vessels within the EEZ because even if he wants to, the country doesn’t have the capability nor the capacity to do it.
He noted that the arbitral ruling is unenforceable and that the Philippines merely exercises sovereign right, not sovereignty over the areas within the exclusive economic zone.
“I agree with the President in this regard. Having said that, to allow is not the same as not being able to prevent,” he said.
Earlier, Duterte said the Philippines cannot assert sovereignty over its exclusive economic zone and drive Chinese fishermen away from it.
Meanwhile, Gordon said President Rodrigo Duterte should now convene the National Security Council (NSC) to discuss the ramming incident at Recto Bank and the presence of foreign vessels in waters within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
“The first thing that we should do is shut up and call the NSC instead of talking and talking,” he said.
Other government officials, he said, should stop making statements while top executives are finding a solution to the matter.
“If you keep talking while negotiation is on-going, ang position mo tumigas na, hindi ka na makaatras,” also said Gordon, adding that the country cannot depend on the personal friendship of the President.