Lorenzana says claimant countries in West Philippine Sea should "band together"
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the five claimant countries in West Philippine Sea should "band together as one to build a stronger voice" against China.
“What do the small nations do? They’ll have to band together, group together to work together. You’re not stronger when you’re alone, but the other country won’t be treating with us bilaterally if we’re too weak,” Lorenzana said in a television interview on Tuesday.
“I think what will happen maybe or what should happen maybe is for the five claimants Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, (Taiwan) and Brunei will be on band together as one to build a stronger voice to make our wish heard and of other claimants there,” he added.
Aside from Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan and Brunei some features in the Spratly Islands in West Philippine Sea are also being claimed by China.
Lorenzana emphasized that China even rejected the decision of Permanent Court of Arbitration that ruled in favour of the Philippine claim in West Philippine Sea.
“Even before we filed the arbitral case, China already said 'we are not going to honor that' because they insisted that they have historical rights and we went ahead. So we know already that they would not honor so after it came out in our favor. There’s no mechanism to enforce it on the other because the international contract says that the other side must accept it so that it can be implemented but since China would not accept it,” he said.
“In fact during the pendency of the arbitral, when they were hearing the arbitral case they double-timed in reclaiming the reefs and these are now the islands. so by the time the case was resolved on July 10, 2016 their projects on the South China Sea were already finished. It’s a fait accompli. I think that we did not get anything from the arbitral ruling because the mechanism to enforce it is not there,” he added.
After admitting that the Philippines is not yet capable of defending its territory, Lorenzana emphasized that what the country can only do is to continue to file diplomatic protests against the Chinese activities in the disputed territories.
“All we can do now is protest, diplomatic protest, note verbale and talk to them, dialogue with China. There’s nothing we can do,” he said. Robina Asido/DMS