Lacson tells Duterte: Don't advertise Philippines' weakness

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com
Lacson tells Duterte: Don't advertise Philippines' weakness
Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson was saddened President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement on the collision between a Chinese vessel and Filipino boat F/B Gen-Vir 1 near Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea.

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson on Tuesday lamented President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement on the collision between a Chinese vessel and Filipino boat F/B Gen-Vir 1 near Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea.

“The president broke his silence and left us heartbroken,” Lacson wrote on Twitter.

On Monday, Duterte dismissed the ramming incident in the West Philippine Sea that allegedly left 22 Filipino fishermen at sea as “just a collision of ships” and a mere “little maritime accident.”

READ: Duterte on Recto Bank incident: Wait and let the other party be heard

"A maritime incident is a maritime incident. I will not issue a statement because there is no investigation and no result. Wait and give the other party the right to be heard. China, ano ba dito ang totoo (what is the truth here)?" Duterte said eight days after being silent on the issue.

'Mutual Defense Treaty an option'

Lacson said the president “forgot to explore all resources available before exercising his last option of surrender” as he suggested the Mutual Defense Treaty between the United States and the Philippines as an “untapped weapon.”

The senator cited US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent statement that the US and the Philippines “have an obligation under such treaty to respond accordingly if a vessel belonging to either party, military or civilian is attacked in the West Philippine Sea which according to him is within the area of the Pacific.”

Despite this, Lacson clarified that he is not suggesting a war.

“I am not suggesting WW3 but at least it can make China feel the balance of power in the WPS,” Lacson said.

In a separate television interview, Lacson called on Duterte to stop advertising the country’s weakness.

“It's bad enough that we're weak but don't advertise that we're weak. Magtira ka naman ng konting baraha. (Leave some cards),” Lacson said in an interview with CNN.

Lacson said he agrees with Vice President Leni Robredo that the Chinese crew should be responsible for the ramming incident.

He doesn’t, however, agree that the Chinese crew shall be extradited. 

Robredo earlier asked the Department of Foreign Affairs to try the Chinese crew before the Philippine courts.

READ: Robredo: Crew of Chinese vessel should be tried by Philippine courts

'22 fishermen telling the truth'

For Lacson, the 22 fisherfolk were telling the truth about the collision incident. He said that being an investigator his whole life, he always look at the demeanor and consistency of those involved in the case.

He said that in the case of the 22 fishermen, they were very consistent with their accounts despite spontaneity and even when coming from different perspectives.

Meanwhile, he said there is a possibility that the Senate will look into the ramming incident at the 18th Congress if there's a resolution filed for legislative inquiry within the appropriate committee.

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