Enrile’s timely appeal
PRESIDENT Benigno Simeon Aquino III has called on almost everybody from the Americans, the South Koreans and the international community for support but curiously he never asked the nation to unite in the face of the intensifying bullying of the People’s Republic of China on us over some jutting rocks in the West Philippine Sea.
Perhaps the President is so preoccupied with his confrontation with impeached Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona or the issues concerning Hacienda Luisita (which his family recently lost to land reform) that he overlooked the need to make such a “dramatic” appeal or maybe he is just not really confident of our capacity to stand up to China.
Whatever the reason is for the lapse only the President knew.
It is thus a welcome relief that Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile stepped into the leadership void and made such a timely and important appeal. The unity of the nation and its support for the government is indispensable and more important than the hand me down weapons that the United States or any other country could provide if we are to show the world that we are determined to assert our sovereignty not only in the West Philippine Sea but in all areas under our jurisdiction.
“This is a national issue that requires the support of the entire nation, and we support the President on this.There should be no deviation. There should be unanimity of all Filipinos in supporting Malacañang regardless of political persuasion and affiliation on this particular issue,” Enrile said.
“We must show the People’s Republic of China that in this particular issue, the Filipino nation is one in supporting the leadership of the Republic of the Philippines in asserting the sovereign rights of this republic and the Filipino people over the Scarborough Shoal and the Reed Bank, and all the areas the Republic of the Philippines occupy in the South China Sea,” he added.
Indeed it is our duty whatever our political persuasion is to stand up and be counted in this issue of national concern.
A proposal to declare the disputed areas of the West Philippine Sea as an International Maritime Reserve is worth studying. Lawyer and environmentalist Antonio Oposa Jr., in his recent letter to Pres. Aquino, wrote that his proposal will “not benefit a single country for the present. Rather, it will be of benefit to all countries and to all peoples today and in the generations yet to come…”
He explained that by declaring the entire Spratly Islands and the West Philippine Sea an international marine reserve and nature-park we will “not directly antagonize any of the claimant countries.”
“Instead, the Philippines will be taking the moral high road, and thereby earn the respect of the world that is increasingly more environmentally aware. Rather than fight with the claimant countries in competition to use resources for the present, we will bring the countries together in cooperation to reserve resources for the future.”
Oposa suggested that Aquino “can jump-start the process by issuing a presidential proclamation declaring the areas of the claimed Spratly Islands and its surrounding seas claimed by The Philippines as a nationally protected area and marine reserve…This initiative will show the seriousness of purpose of the Philippines and of the Filipino people in their desire for peace and for the protection of the marine life for the benefit of future generations of humankind.”
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