By Mario Casayuran
The Philippines will never give up an inch of its territory to any foreign power, particularly China, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin said Monday.
Briefing senators who are members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chaired by Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, Locsin said parts of Philippine territory taken over by China ‘’will never ripen into right.’’
Locsin stressed that the age of hegemony in southeast Asia ‘’is over’’ as no country will ever permit it.
Replying to a query by Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon, Locsin said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has fired off diplomatic protest against the unauthorized passage by Chinese naval vessels in Philippine straits as evidence of its assertion of its sovereign right over its territory.
In 2016, the United Nations Arbitration Court rejected China’s historical claim over most parts of South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea (WPS) claimed by the Philippines.
Drilon said he found it troubling that Chinese vessels pass through Philippine waters because of the current economic and military imbalance between the two nations with China at the upper hand.
After the latest Chinese incursion on Philippine territory, Locsin said he already has fired off a diplomatic protest.
If China will again make illegal maritime incursion, Locsin said he would fire another diplomatic protest ‘’because will never run out of those’’ and will ‘’drop its usual diplomatic language.’’
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that the repeated passage of Chinese vessels in Philippine territory is becoming an irritant.
Malacanang spokesman Salvador Panelo said he found it troubling that the Chinese ships had to pass through Philippine waters when they could have used another route.
Pimentel later told Senate reporters that the presence of Locsin and other ranking DFA officials before his committee was sought during its organizational meeting and briefing.
He said he would leave it to Locsin’s discretion to call for a closed door session in future committee hearings if there will be sensitive issues that should not be discussed openly.