Senator Christopher “Bong” Go remains steadfast in his stance to uphold the rights of the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) amid accusations by the Chinese government that the country is trespassing into the waters adjacent to Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal).
As vice chairman of the Senate Committee on National Defense, Go emphasized the country’s right to patrol these waters without a need for Chinese approval, considering that Bajo de Masinloc falls within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Philippines. Nevertheless, China asserts its “indisputable sovereignty” over the shoal and the surrounding waters.
“What is ours is ours. We must remain consistent on our foreign policy of being friends to all, enemy to none. But we must also stand firm on protecting our sovereignty,” Go stressed.
The senator likewise echoed National Security Adviser Eduardo Año’s sentiment that China was “overhyping” the incident and provoking tensions given the situation.
“It did not illegally enter any space under Chinese sovereignty because Bajo de Masinloc is part of the Philippine archipelago and EEZ [exclusive economic zone],” Año was quoted as saying in a recent statement.
Go’s stance is in line with international law, specifically the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which recognizes the EEZs of coastal states. Under UNCLOS, the Philippines has the legal right to patrol and conduct maritime activities in its EEZ without requiring approval from foreign governments.
In addition to asserting the country’s sovereignty, Go also stressed the need for a peaceful and diplomatic resolution to conflicts in the SCS. He highlighted the importance of open lines of communication and the avoidance of unnecessary escalations in order to maintain regional stability.
Meanwhile, Go continues to push for Senate Bill No. 2112, which is aims to modernize the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and enhancing its capabilities to better protect the Philippines’ maritime resources.
The bill seeks improve the capacity of the agency with the necessary assets and resources to more effectively perform its duties and responsibilities.
Image credits: Nonoy Lacza