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Duterte’s SONA should tackle WPS

/ 05:02 AM July 11, 2019

Aside from the drug issue that the Duterte administration continues to fight head-on, there is another issue that deserves the government’s attention—the West Philippine Sea.

It has been three years since the favorable ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the maritime dispute between the Philippines and China. Sadly, it never ended the problem, as Beijing continues to flex its muscle over the vast sea, enjoying that part on which we have exclusive rights.

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The recent report on a Filipino fishing vessel rammed by a Chinese vessel further aggravates the situation. This makes it more compelling for the President to look into the situation. He must express his plans on this issue during his  State of the Nation Address and set his policy straight once and for all. We need to hear him speak, because much is at stake. In fact, over the years, much of our marine resources have been lost, ultimately depriving us of our own.

Our exclusive economic zone (EEZ) — the source of income of our fishermen and the country’s food and energy source as well — should be nonnegotiable to aggressors and those that want to own what in the first place is not theirs. We must exert every effort to assert our right over our EEZ and enforce the ruling we won.

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There are actually realistic ways to do this. War is not among them. Thinking of resorting to war is cowardice. Agreements that would allow Chinese use of resources within our EEZ may be of help, but we should never yield to outside powers just because they impress with friendlier ties. Our government must always uphold the Constitution and enforce its intent. Three years remain for President Duterte. He still has time to act on this.

MARK JEROME T. BONGALON

Matagbac, Tabaco City, Albay

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TAGS: EEZ, Inquirer letters, Maritime Dispute, Mark Jerome T. Bongalon, Rodrigo Duterte, Sona, West Philippine Sea
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