Lorenzana claims the previous administration "mismanaged" the West Philippine Sea issue
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the previous administration “mismanaged” the West Philippine Sea territorial row.
“When we entered... we did not have trade with China. They do not buy our products. There were no Chinese tourists... We were not able to fish at Scarborough Shoal. Our troops were being harrassed, but now we sell our bananas there. They buy all our bananas. Their tourists have doubled. We can fish there and our troops were no longer harassed, except the very isolated incident in the Ayungin ( Shoal),” he said.
“So is that mismanagement? We have managed it very well through the president's leadership. For me it’s not mismanagement. The one who mismanaged is the previous administration,” he added.
However, Lorenzana expressed interest on filing another complaint against China on the recent harassment of Chinese Coast Guard against the fishermen in Scarborough shoal.
It was reported that the Chinese Coast Guard were taking the catch of the Filipino fishermen.
“We are trying to validate. We have to validate it... Maybe we have to interview the witnesses and the victims, and then I want us to protest if that really happens. That is what Secretary (Alan Peter) Cayetano wants, but we have to validate because we have to be sure that what we are protesting really happened,” said Lorenzana.
Despite the continued presence of Chinese Coast Guard in Scarborough Shoal and the reported harassment against Filipino fishermen, Lorenzana expressed his belief that China does not have intention to invade the country.
“I don’t think China will invade us. Although China is a superpower, it is not their manner to invade other country ..,” he said when asked his reaction on the statement of former National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales who urged the government to begin crafting contingency plans in case China decides to invade the country.
“They are near Vietnam and Korea. They did not invade them, so I don’t think they will invade, and they are trying their best to be also a good, respectable superpower. I don’t think they will invade the Philippines,” Lorenzana added.
It can be recalled that Congressman Gary Alejano mentioned that the Chinese Coast Guard are harassing the Filipino fishermen in Scarborough shoal.
Alejano claimed the Palace has ordered the military not to patrol the West Philippine Sea which was also denied by Lorenzana.
“There was no order whatsoever, even on 2016… he (president) can (order to stop the patrol), but he will not do it,” Lorenzana said.
“He did not even hint that they stop patrolling. That is why we have regular patrols there. (We used) aircraft. If the weather is bad, we do not deploy, but if it is good our aircraft regularly flew there,” he said. Robina Asido/DMS