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Three China vessels remain in Bajo de Masinloc, says DFA’s del Rosario

FOREIGN Secretary Albert F. del Rosario on Friday urged the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) cadet corps to “demonstrate that right is might.”

He gave this message to the country’s future military leaders as he called on them to take a strong stand with the government to “defend what is ours.”

“Live up to your living commitment of courage, integrity and loyalty. By doing so, rather than being forced to accept that might is right, we will instead demonstrate that right is might,” del Rosario said.t

During del Rosario’s first-ever lecture to the PMA cadet corps and faculty on its campus in Baguio City on November 23, he shared with the cadets the West Philippine Sea issue, its challenges and the Philippine government’s actions in meeting these challenges.

The lecture-seminar aimed to promote the knowledge of Philippine policies and positions with regard to the country’s national territories, and to further prepare the PMA cadets on their roles as the country’s vanguards.

Del Rosario, in his presentation, explained what constitutes the Philippines’s national territory, in accordance with the Constitution, and continued on to show how the Kalayaan Island Group and Bajo de Masinloc are all parts of the national territory.

“We have a clear mandate from our President. What is ours is ours, and we should stand up to protect what is ours.”

He said,  “This mandate is not a matter of choice on the part of our government but is dictated as an obligation by our Constitution to which the President has sworn to uphold.”

Del Rosario narrated how the standoff in April started between the Philippines and China, emphasizing that the Philippines “continues to peacefully and constructively engage all claimant neighbors, particularly China,” despite the challenges the country is facing to protect its national territory.

He said the Philippines advocates a rules-based approach to address the disputes in the West Philippine Sea and explained the rules-based approach’s three tracks —political, legal and diplomatic track.

In response to the issue of “internationalization,” del Rosario strongly defended President Aquino’s position that it is the inherent right of a sovereign state to defend its national interest, when deemed necessary.

Quoting the President’s statement at the recently held Asean Summit Meeting, he said that “all parties should respect the exclusive economic zone [EEZ] of all coastal states irrespective of their size or naval power in conformity and in accordance with Unclos [United Nations Convention in the Law of the Sea].”

Del Rosario noted that China, to date, still has three ships in Bajo de Masinloc and pointed out that Mr. Aquino called on “our northern neighbor to respect our EEZ and withdraw their vessels which remain in Bajo de Masinloc.”

Del Rosario said, “The territorial issues cannot be solved overnight.  However, if the Chinese ships were to be pulled out, this could create the impetus for a way forward.”





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