By Ellson Quismorio
A militant lawmaker is demanding “special protection” for Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) following the collision of a foreign vessel and a Philippine fishing boat in the area.
Aside from this, Anakpawis Party-List Rep. Ariel Casilao challenged the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) “to defend the national territory” in light of the disconcerting incident, which could’ve easily caused the death of some 22 Filipino fishermen.
“The Filipino fishing boats in the West Philippine Sea are actually our flag or national symbol. The Chinese repeatedly ward them off [from] our seas,” said Casilao, a member of the Makabayan Bloc in the just-concluded 17th Congress.
Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana bared on Wednesday that Filipino vessel (FB Gimver 1), which came from Occidental Mindoro, sank near Recto Bank after it was hit by a Chinese vessel. The collision occurred on June 9.
Lorenzana said the 22 Filipinos aboard the capsized boat were then left at “the mercy of the elements” until they were scooped up from the water by a Vietnamese vessel.
“If the Armed Forces tolerate this breach, they might as well dismantle themselves for being always MIA (missing in action) in their mission to protect Filipino fisherfolk,” Casilao said.
He further pressed the AFP to secure Philippine maritime territories and ward off foreign intruders to guarantee the safety of Filipinos who will venture into the WPS.
“With all the posturing of a ‘strong man’ rule against poor Filipinos, the regime is a total teddy bear to China,” Casilao said of the Duterte administration, which employed a friendlier stance toward China compared to the previous Aquino administration despite the ongoing maritime dispute.
“Thus, the task lies on the people to express the collective dissent on the imperialistic assault on our national sovereignty,” he concluded.