TACLOBAN CITY — Senate race frontrunner Grace Poe has asked the government to step up patrol operations in the West Philippine Sea as the country asserts its sovereignty in the disputed territory.
“The islands belong to our country and I hope we will intensify our patrol operation because the most affected are the livelihood activities of our fishermen,” Poe told reporters in an interview at the city’s airport here on Thursday.
The senator asked the government to allocate more funds to guard the country’s territory and ensure the welfare of Filipino fishermen.
“We should push and persist before the last clam is harvested, the last coral reef is destroyed, the last atoll is reclaimed on a territory which is rightfully ours,” added Poe, an independent reelectionist candidate in the Senate.
She reminded Malacañang that any discussion or agreements on joint development should proceed from the assumption that the West Philippine Sea is a Philippine territory, and that allies should respect each other’s sovereignty.
“To remove any doubts that such agreements are not detrimental to the interest of Filipinos, they should be made transparent.”
Malacañang Palace earlier expressed hope that China would remain open-minded to resolve the sea row and at the same time, respond to the Philippines’ diplomatic protest against the presence of Chinese vessels near Pag-asa Island and other Philippine-claimed territories. Sarwell Meniano /PNA – northboundasia.com