Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has proposed for the immediate convening of the National Security Council (NSC) to determine decisive courses of action on the reported China’s militarization over the West Philippine Sea (WPS), also known as South China Sea.
De Lima filed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 744 urging President Duterte to convene immediately the NSC, which is the principal advisory body on the proper coordination and integration of plans and policies affecting national security.
“Inaction or soft diplomatic actions are no longer options as the military activities of China over West Philippine Sea have placed the whole country under perpetual threat,” she said.
“The President should be presented all possible actions, including forceful diplomacy, close collaboration with allies, such as Australia, Japan, and the United States, renewed partnership with Indonesia, Vietnam, and other allies in ASEAN, and availment of other proper UN mechanisms,” she added.
Last May 2, US media reports revealed that China has quietly deployed cruise ship missiles and surface on three islands in the Spratly Islands, where the Philippines is one of six claimant-countries.
Days after, the Chinese army announced it had landed bombers, including the top-of-the-line H-6K, on an outpost in the WPS on May 18, for the first time. Nearly the entire sovereign territory of the Philippines falls within the radius of the bombers.
Despite China’s aggressive actions on WPS, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) maintained that the Philippines will not publicly condemn China over the landing of bombers in the WPS and will simply quietly convey the government’s concerns through diplomatic channels.
Malacañang, on its parts, maintained its position not to antagonize China, as it chose to set aside contentious issues over Manila’s maritime dispute with Beijing in the WPS.
The former justice secretary said the NSC, which is mandated to advise the President on matters involving national security, should ensure that Duterte is presented with all available information so he could properly handle the situation over China’s militarization of WPS.
“It is imperative that our government establish a clear policy over the militarization activities of China on the West Philippine Sea and, with the help of international community, pressure China to remove any and all facilities that threaten the security of our country and the ASEAN region,” she stated.
Note that even with the decision of United Nations (UN) Arbitral Tribunal invalidating China’s claim and ruling that Philippines has exclusive sovereign rights over WPS, China refuses to comply with the verdict.