No need for National Security Council yet amid China's threats

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
No need for National Security Council yet amid China's threats
Left photo shows China coast guard personnel appearing to wield bladed weapons during an incident off Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea. Right photo shows destroyed communication and navigational equipments including a cellular phone of a Philippine navy boat.
Photo by Armed Forces of the Philippines-Public Affairs Office / AFP

MANILA, Philippines — Despite China’s aggressive actions, there is no recommendation yet for President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to convene the National Security Council composed of incumbent officials and former presidents, as proposed by Sen. Francis Tolentino.

“At this moment, the situation in Ayungin and the issues in the West Philippine Sea are effectively being managed by the National Maritime Council. In fact, the National Maritime Council has convened and (acted) on the direction of the President. So, at this moment, we are not recommending the convening of the National Security Council,” National Security Adviser Eduardo Año said.

“However, the president has the discretion to convene the full council or the executive committee anytime,” he pointed out.

Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. also cited the high morale of soldiers and sailors despite recent challenges.

“In the face of these challenges, they (soldiers) become more inspired to perform their duties,” he said.

In a speech before soldiers in Palawan last Sunday, Marcos maintained that the Philippines would not instigate a war but would not yield to any foreign power.

“In the performance of our duties, we will not resort to the use of force or intimidation, or deliberately inflict injury or harm to anyone,” the president said.

“But at the same time, we stand firm. Our calm and peaceful disposition should not be mistaken for acquiescence.”

In an interview on ANC, retired Supreme Court senior associate justice Antonio Carpio also said the June 17 Ayungin incident cannot be considered an accident or a misunderstanding.

“I do not agree that the incident was an accident because as you can see, it was planned by the Chinese and it was also not a misunderstanding. The Chinese knew that we were bringing supplies. It has been going on for a long time so it cannot be a misunderstanding,” Carpio said.

But he agreed with Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin's statement that the incident was not an armed attack since no firearms were involved.

He noted that the Philippines is wary about using firearms so as not to “invite retaliation” from China.

Beijing also did not want to use arms since it would trigger the Mutual Defense Treaty. “The last thing they [China] would want is for the Americans to intervene in the dispute,” he said.

He said Manila should go “on the offensive” against China in a legal way, which he explained is still the best course of action to take against Beijing. — Helen Flores, Sheila Crisostomo, Daphne Galvez, Mark Ernest Villeza

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