By J. Jala | 01:59 AM May 29, 2021
Former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia on Friday said the country’s next president should “vigorously defend” the West Philippine Sea (WPS) to avoid losing more in the disputed region.
The former member of the Duterte Cabinet said the country has been “losing much in WPS” that the leader who succeeds Duterte should focus on the issue.
“We’ve been losing much in WPS, and we could lose more. Our next leader must vigorously defend what’re ours. No ifs and buts!” he said on Twitter.
Pernia’s tweet has 876 likes and 157 retweets. It also prompted some replies implying whether the current leader — his former boss, President Rodrigo Duterte — was not doing enough to secure assets in the WPS.
Pernia has not replied to those comments as of this posting.
Duterte has barred his cabinet from publicly discussing the South China Sea dispute after key ministers rebuked Beijing over the presence of Chinese vessels in the contested waterway.
However, Duterte stressed that the gag order did not mean the Philippines was wavering in its defence of its sovereign rights.
Tensions between Manila and Beijing over the South China Sea – which China claims almost entirely – flared in March after hundreds of Chinese boats were spotted inside the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) or the West Philippine Sea.