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Senate united in passing ‘stronger and wiser’ resolution condemning Chinese harassment in WPS: Cayetano

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday said the strong show of solidarity among the senators in unanimously passing Senate Resolution No. (SRN) 79, which calls out China for its repeated incursions in the West Philippine Sea and harassment of Filipino fishermen, embodies the chamber’s consensus in protecting the country’s territorial rights and sovereignty.

The independent senator said this in a manifestation expressing his vote in favor of the resolution, which was co-authored by all senators on Tuesday, August 1.

SRN 79 takes into consideration two earlier proposed resolutions — PSR 659 filed by Senator Risa Hontiveros and PSR 718 filed by Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri.

In the resolution, the Senate “strongly condemn(s) the continued harassment of Filipino fishermen and the incursions in the West Philippine Sea by the Chinese Coast Guard and militia vessels.”

It also urges the Philippine government “to take appropriate action in asserting and securing the Philippines’ sovereign rights over its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, and to call on China to stop its illegal activities in accordance with the United Nations Convention on The Law Of The Sea and the 2016 Ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.”

“Mahirap kunin ang consensus sa 24 na senador na iba’t iba ang perspektibo, pare-parehong nagmamahal sa ating bansa, pare-pareho pong gusto na ma-settle ang issue of course in favor of the Philippines, ng ating territorial rights, sovereignty,” Cayetano said at the plenary floor on Tuesday afternoon.

He said the unanimous approval of the new resolution, which came after a closed-door meeting on Monday night with Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, National Security Adviser Eduardo Año, and Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Romeo Brawner, was fueled by the deep discourse provided on the WPS issue.

In an interview with reporters at the sidelines of the session, Cayetano said, “Hindi naman kami magkakasundo na 24 na senador kung hindi napakalalim ng diskurso.”

He said he voted in favor of the new resolution because it gives more options for the executive, unlike Proposed Senate Resolution 659 which had urged the government through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to sponsor a resolution before the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) calling on China to stop its harassment of Philippine vessels within the WPS.

“For me it’s a stronger proposal kasi mas malawak ito and it also takes into consideration contingencies. This is sober… whether individually and institutionally, the Senate offered its help na makikipagtulungan sa Executive to get the job done. We are happy that this is the best language that we can come up with and this is not watered down,” he said.

Cayetano added that the new resolution seeks for the country to win the argument to also enjoy the WPS.

“We don’t want to just argue. We want to argue to win the argument. And ano ba ang winning the argument? Not only going around the world saying na tama tayo, but also protecting our sovereignty and sovereign rights and enjoying it… Magkaiba y’ung [naunang] resolution, but the intention is the same, which is to address the situation in the WPS,” he said.

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