February 16, 2023
MANILA — Sen. Bong Go has reignited the call for a peaceful and diplomatic approach to resolving the Philippines’ maritime dispute with Beijing after a China Coast Guard ship struck a Philippine patrol vessel with a military-grade laser that harmed some of its crew.
Go said he was “bothered and deeply concerned” by the attack during a rotation and resupply mission of the Philippine Navy in Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea on Feb. 6.
“I am appealing to the executive to promptly act on what appeared to be an unsafe act against our people,” he said in a statement.
The senator hailed the government’s move to file a diplomatic protest against China’s encroachment on Philippine waters, particularly in the Ayungin Shoal.
He then expressed confidence that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. would assert the Philippines’ sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea.
“Bagamat ang apela ko ay sana ayusin ang anumang hindi pagkakaintindihan sa mapayapa at diplomatikong paraan. Ako naman po, gaya ng stand ni dating Pangulong [Rodrigo] Duterte – kung ano ang atin ay atin,” Go added.
(Similar to the stance of former President Rodrigo Duterte, my appeal is to resolve all our issues with China peacefully and diplomatically. What’s ours is ours.)
In view of the harassment incident, China’s Ministry of Affairs spokesperson Wang Wenbin has accused the Philippines of intruding into the maritime territory of the Asian giant.
But Sen. Risa Hontiveros has since called on China to “stop lying” as she cited the 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which recognizes the Philippines’ sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea.
Ayungin Shoal, a submerged reef 194 km off Palawan province, is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
Since 2016 and until Jan. 26, 2023, the Philippines has filed 461 diplomatic protests against China’s intrusion into the West Philippine Sea.