September 15, 2023
MANILA – Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said the Philippines is adopting a proactive strategy to defend its maritime interests in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
The Philippines is engaging with the United States, and it has also formed alliances with Japan, South Korea, Australia, and the Asean countries to ensure its supreme rights and jurisdiction are maintained.
“This time, we are asserting our sovereign rights, our sovereign jurisdiction in a proactive way, not in a passive way,” Teodoro told ANC.
Teodoro warned of the Philippine territory being “eaten up” with its passive approach to the sea row. “So now, we try to assert our rights in the West Philippine Sea proactively. So now we need the assistance,” he underscored.
The Defense chief’s remarks were clearly a response to Senator Robin Padilla’s worries about a US Navy aircraft’s front during a recent resupply mission for the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal, a region that has been staffed with military personnel since 1999.
Teodoro’s statement reflected the nation’s loyalty to protecting its sovereignty and controlling its sea territories.
The Philippine Coast Guard and Philippine Navy led the mission last August.
The trip towards the World War II-era warship was hounded by previous instances when the Chinese Coast Guard had attacked a Philippine convoy of vessels with water cannons.
Teodoro repudiated accusations that the Philippines is now relying on the US to defend WPS against incursions by China.
“You know, to me, the water cannoning proves that we are not leaning too much on the US,” he said.
“Because if we lean too much on the US, we’ll ask them to escort us there, which we don’t want to do,” he clarified.
“We want to do things our way, and we want a balanced foreign policy,” he maintained.