Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said he was unsatisfied with the answers he got from the sponsor of the budget of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) regarding the statement of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. that the Philippines does not have any territorial conflict with China.
During the budget deliberation, Lagman inquired about the statement Marcos made during his visit to the United States.
“Could the distinguished sponsor request the secretary of Foreign Affairs if he could explain the meaning and import of this President’s rhetoric,” said Lagman referring to Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante who sponsored the DFA’s proposed budget.
In response, Abante said, “As I talk with the family of DFA we call it indisputable sovereignty.”
After China rejected the United Nations arbitral decision and building military facilities in the WPS, Lagman asked: “Is the President correct that the Philippines has no territorial conflict with China?”
Abante said the Philippines is not recognizing the claim of China in the West Philippine Sea.
“To my mind when China is not only claiming but annexing maritime territories of the Philippines that is a territorial conflict which we should confront,” Lagman added.
Abante said that since 2020, the DFA has made 405 diplomatic protests against the illegal presence of China.
“The DFA will continue to assert the right of the Philippines over the WPS and the best way to do it is to do it by diplomatic protests,” Abante said.
Lagman answered, “We could file a million diplomatic protests but China will just throw that into the dustbin of Chinese arrogance and aggression.”
“For not enforcing the arbitral decision in favor of the Philippines everyday we are surrendering not only inches of Philippine territory but hectarage of maritime resource-rich territory belonging to the Philippines,” Lagman said.
Lagman added, “I would like to place on record that I am not satisfied with the answers of the distinguished sponsor.”
Abante replied, “I will not expect him to be satisfied. Yet, if he has any proposal for us to be able to get the WPS, I hope he could be able to tell me about that because I am also very interested.”
Lagman answered, “The initiative should come from the President of the Philippines and the Department of Foreign Affairs [DFA], not from the opposition.”