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Lorenzana on West Philippine Sea survey: 'No islands to retake from China'

Michael Punongbayan - The Philippine Star
Lorenzana on West Philippine Sea survey: 'No islands to retake from China'
Reacting to a survey that said nine out of 10 Filipinos want the Philippines to retake what it has lost, he said there are no islands to retake.
KJ Rosales

MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana rejected yesterday insinuations and allegations that President Duterte is guilty of inaction on the issue of the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Reacting to a survey that said nine out of 10 Filipinos want the Philippines to retake what it has lost, he said there are no islands to retake.

“What islands will we retake in the first place? Did China take any of our occupied nine islands? No. We are still in control and in occupation,” Lorenzana said.

“Retake what? Did we lose any islands? The Chinese never took any of our occupied islands. They took over unoccupied reefs and turned them into islands. Had we been wiser, we could have occupied those reefs as well when we occupied the nine islands in the 70s.”  

He pointed out that China reclaimed several underwater reefs and that Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal was lost to the Chinese in 2012.  

“No island belonging to us were ever lost during the time of President Duterte. While Panatag is under the effective control of the Chinese, our fishermen could fish in the area,” Lorenzana stressed. 

He pointed out that it is easy to say “Let us assert our rights and sovereignty” but it would be an entirely different matter to resolve an issue with a regional power that is ready to defend its “interest” militarily.  

“Question is how? But first, was there sovereignty violated? We have the sovereign right to exploit the resources but the WPS is not our sovereign territory. Panatag Shoal, thanks to the arbitral ruling, is now the fishing ground not exclusively of the Filipinos but of Chinese, Vietnamese and Taiwanese as well,” he added. 

He claimed that the President could not be accused of inaction because after Duterte’s bilateral talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Filipino fishermen were able to return to Panatag to fish, the military can resupply troops without interference and an agreement saying both parties cannot occupy new features was made and complied with. 

vuukle comment

DELFIN LORENZANA

SCARBOROUGH SHOAL

WEST PHILIPPINE SEA

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