AMID the latest tension in the West Philippine Sea, retired PNP chief Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar is the first among the senatorial aspirants to visit the Pagasa Island to send a strong message of the need to assert our sovereignty and to show unity with fisherfolk that have been affected by Chinese activities in the region.
Eleazar was with Partido Reporma standard bearer Senator Panfilo Lacson and other officials of the political party. Part of the visit was to have a discussion with personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippines – Western Command about territorial issues in the resource-rich region.
They also made consultations with residents in order for them to have a clear picture of what their real situation amid the continuous activities of Chinese forces within the Philippine territorial waters.
Eleazar underscored the need for every Filipino to assert the country’s sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea amid the escalating tension in the area.
“Our stand to assert our sovereignty does not necessarily translate to war like what other people think. We already won the case and we will support any move for dialogues and to seek the support of the international community, particularly our allies, in ensuring both the freedom of navigation and bring back the normalcy on our traditional fishing rights,” said Eleazar.
“Walang ibang hangad ang ating mga kababayan kung hindi maibalik sa normal na malaya silang makakapangisda. Ito ang ating isusulong dahil ang kabuhayan na nila ang pinag-uusapan dito,” he added.
During his incumbency as the chief PNP, Eleazar had pushed for the active involvement of the PNP’s Maritime Group in the monitoring and in patrolling in the West Philippine Sea along with the Philippine Coast Guard and personnel from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).
“Hindi naman puwede na habambuhay tayong mabu-bully at makikipagpatintero sa sarili nating teritoryo, kaya mahalaga na mapalakas ang pakikipag-ugnayan natin sa ating mga ka-alyadong bansa upang maipag-laban natin ang pagbabalik sa normal sa West Philppine Sea,” said Eleazar.
Eleazar and Lacson’s visit at the Pagasa Island came days after personnel of the China Coast Guard reportedly blocked and used water cannons on two Philippine ships that were on their way to the Ayungin Shoal or Second Thomas Shoal for a resupply mission.
In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague invalidated China’s sweeping claims over the said waters. Beijing has since refuse to recognize the ruling.