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National security expert tells PBBM: Be "cautious and moderate" in issuing hardline statements vs. China
National security expert tells PBBM: Be "cautious and moderate" in issuing hardline statements vs. China
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National security expert tells PBBM: Be "cautious and moderate" in issuing hardline statements vs. China
by Ellicia Del Mundo10 September 2023
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A national security expert on Sunday advised President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. to be "cautious and moderate" in issuing “hardline statements” against China with regard to the tension in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Interviewed during DZRH’s Huntahan, national security expert Rommel Banlaoi said that while he understood that Marcos simply intended to show the world that the Philippines would fight for its territorial rights in the WPS, a hardline stance could potentially decrease the “prospect for a peaceful resolution.”

“Kaya dapat maging cautious at moderate ang ating position para magkaroon ng room for discussion and negotiations,” he said.

“Kasi kapag hindi magkakaroon ng room for discussion and negotiations, talagang wala tayong kakahantungan kung hindi magkaroon talaga ng violent encounter in just a matter of time,” Banlaoi added.

If "violent encounters" eventually happen, the national security expert said the country should be prepared for military action.

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“Paghandaan din natin kung up to what extent ma-involved ang Estados Unidos to our defense. Ayan yung dalawang pahahandaan natin,” Banaloi continued.

During the 43rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit Retreat, the President urged the ASEAN members to not allow the international order to be subjected to the forces of might or "hegemonic ambition" with regard to the issue of WPS.

Marcos also called on ASEAN members to oppose the deployment of coast guard and maritime militia vessels in the WPS.

But Banlaoi said that the two parties, the Philippines and China, should sit down and sincerely discuss how to manage differences on the ground.

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He cited that his studies on China’s territorial disputes with other countries in the past showed that it has always been willing to “compromise” to settle the territorial dispute.

“Tayo ba ay willing to compromise? Kasi kung hindi tayo willing mag-compromise at kung hindi tayo willing magbigay ng negotiable term for settlement ay talagang ang conflict ay magiging inevitable,” he added.

China's blocking in WPS may continue

Last Friday, Sept. 8, several Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) vessels blocked the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) ships while they were on a resupply mission to BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal.

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The blocking comes a month after CCG dangerously maneuvered and illegally blasted water cannons against Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessels near Ayungin.

According to the national security expert, CCG will continue to block the country in its resupply missions.

"Dahil sa kanilang pananaw, mayroon din silang binabantayan interes diyan. 'Yung sinasagawa nilang harassment sa atin, bahagi ng kanilang maritime law enforcement," he said.

Banlaoi also said that China may be using the blocking as part of its strategy.

"Ang mangayayari niyan, sa pagkakaunawa ko, ang istratehiya ng China, naghihintay lamang ng tamang pagkakataon para i-justify ang paggamit ng dahas laban sa atin," he said.

"Ang paggamit ng dahas ay depende sa gagawin nating pag-uugali sa area na 'yan. Tulad ng ginawa nila sa Scarborough Shoal, hinintay lang nila ang pagkakataon na magkamali tayo hanggang maangkin na nila noong 2012," Banlaoi added.

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