May 19, 2024

The Insider News

Direct from the source

House special panel on WPS committed to protecting PH interests

THE House Special Committee on West Philippine Sea (WPS) chaired by Mandaluyong Lone District Rep. Neptali “Boyet” Gonzales II stressed on Tuesday its commitment under the leadership of Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez to protecting the interest of the country amid the “high tensions” in the WPS. 

Gonzales, a veteran lawmaker, made this declaration during a hearing of the special committee, the importance of which was underscored by the recent aggressive acts of China within internationally-recognized territorial waters of the Philippines. 

“Tensions are high, and it comes when we are experiencing numerous simultaneous conflicts around the world. The frequent incidents prompted by Chinese vessels in the WPS is a serious cause for concern,” Gonzales said in his opening speech as he laid out the agenda of the panel hearing. 

“As I have previously said, our committee is committed to safeguarding the interests of the Philippines and its people,” noted the former deputy speaker and majority leader. 

“And so, we called this meeting to serve as a platform for open dialogue, ensuring that we address the challenges head-on and work towards a peaceful, cooperative future in the [WPS],” added Gonzales. 

The hearing of the Gonzales panel was seen as consistent with President Marcos’ pronouncements on protecting the country’s territorial integrity. 

Before winning the presidency, Marcos vowed in February 2022 that the Philippines under his leadership “won’t lose an inch” of its territory. 

The panel proceedings will include a briefing by the National Task Force for the WPS on recent incidents involving Philippine and Chinese vessels in the WPS. 

These incidents include the one last Oct. 22, when, during the routine and regular rotation and resupply (Ro-Re) mission to the BRP Sierra Madre stationed at Ayungin Shoal, two Chinese Coast Guard ships conducted a “dangerous maneuver” and collided with an Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)-contracted supply boat Unaiza May 2.  

“Since then, the Philippines has strongly protested China’s actions. President Marcos has called on the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to investigate the matter; the Department of Foreign Affairs has filed a diplomatic protest and has summoned the Chinese Ambassador, and leaders of Congress have condemned the incident and called on China to be held accountable for its actions, with our very own Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez saying that ‘the Chinese Coast Guard’s collisions with Philippine boats have placed the lives of passengers in the vessels in danger and regional peace and stability at risk’,” Gonzales said.