MANILA—Some lawmakers on Monday found President Rodrigo Duterte's foreign policy with China wanting, questioning how the chief executive will assert Manila's rights in the West Philippine Sea.
"Siguro dapat mas naging ma-detalye pa. I mean, malinaw sinabi niya na atin ang West Philippine Sea pero papano natin maipapahayag ang ating protesta sa ginagawa ng China doon," Sen. Grace Poe said.
Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate said the president is imposing "a shooting war scenario to justify his administration's abject failure to assert our sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea."
"Other neighboring countries with similar claims like ours have asserted their rights but this did not resulted to war. His statements can be interpreted by China as an open invitation for even more aggressive actions or imperialist bullying in the West Philippine Sea," he said.
Magdalo party-list Rep. Manuel Cabochan III described Duterte's pronouncement as "misplaced threats of war."
"Instead of painting our country as a weakling, I think it would have been better to hear from the President words to boost our nation’s morale in the face of foreign aggression," he said.
Meanwhile, Senate President Tito Sotto III supports Duterte's position in strategic waterway.
"Ang sense ko doon, noon pa man, I’ve mentioned it before—as long as we’re allowed also in their [China] territory and we allow them in our territories, we support the perspective of the president. No violent objections about it. Pini-PR naman tayo ng China," he said.
Sen. Imee Marcos also concurs Duterte's actions to resolve the issue in a "peaceful way."
"He again amplified 'there is a time for everything' and that there is a proper time to invoke the arbitral ruling on the Manila-Beijing West Philippine Sea dispute," she said.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the president is not abandoning Manila's claim of ownership over the area.
"We are still standing by it but 'yun na nga, there are implications that's why ang kaniyang polisiya, patuloy ang pag-uusap, patuloy ang pakikipag-negotiate but without surrendering our sovereign rights over the exclusive economic zone," he said.
"Ultimately, ang tinitingnan ng pangulo is the safety of the country at lahat ng mga kababayan nating mga Pilipino, without letting go of our claims sa EEZ, without surrendering the EEZ," he added. - with reports from Mike Navallo and RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News