The Philippines, while it continues to maintain warm ties with China, is not surrendering nor compromising any part of its territory.
This was stressed by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana during Monday’s forum at the National Defense College of the Philippines dubbed “The National Security Outlook for the Philippines in 2019”.
“While we recognize China as a bilateral partner for joint ventures and other endeavors, it is worth emphasizing that our territorial sovereignty and integrity, maritime entitlements and rights should not be compromised. We are not compromising them; we are not giving them away,” he said.
“The Philippines continues to view the arbitral tribunal ruling as valid and legitimate. We have not, and we will never surrender any part of our territory,” he added.
The DND chief also cited the competing territorial and maritime claims in the South China Sea as the most critical external security challenge for the country.
Lorenzana also said the government had reiterated its call on China and other claimant countries to finalize and adopt a valid, binding and mutually acceptable code of conduct in the South China Sea.
He also maintained that the Armed Forces of the Philippines maintains its presence within the exclusive economic zone, and with its limited resources, does its best to safeguard the farthest ends of the country’s territory.
“Since it is imperative to secure the national territory, sovereignty and sovereign rights of our country’s maritime claims and entitlements, to include the West Philippine Sea and the Philippine Rise, the AFP is steadfast in performing this constitutional duty,” the DND chief emphasized.
In the same forum, Lorenzana reiterated the need to review Manila’s Mutual Defense Treaty with Washington.
“Given this challenge with China, everyone must be asking why we initiated the call to review the MDT with the United States, our only treaty ally. We believe it is time to sit down with our US counterparts and revisit the terms of our alliance,” he stressed.
While the Philippines has always valued its partnership and in its deep historical ties with the US, Lorenzana noted that the two allies “must clearly define our roles and responsibilities when the need arises.” With PNA