“It would be best for the Philippine government to assert its sovereignty on the West Philippine Sea without playing one superpower against the other. If this competition for dominance escalate, we will surely be crushed in the middle of it all.”
By EMILY VITAL
MANILA – Several groups opposed the new round of Balikatan between the American troops and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, saying it would only fan the tension in the West Philippine Sea.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate warned that the Balikatan exercises “only serves to heighten the tension between the US and China, placing the Philippines smack in the middle of two competing super powers.”
“It would be best for the Philippine government to assert its sovereignty on the West Philippine Sea without playing one superpower against the other. If this competition for dominance escalate, we will surely be crushed in the middle of it all,” Zarate said.
For Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), the US is “merely taking advantage of our dispute with China in order to reclaim its military presence in the country through the Visiting Forces Agreement.”
“Like China, the US is also an imperialist power with its own agenda of being a superpower in this region of the world. The US wants the public to believe that it will defend Philippine interests in the West Philippine Sea, but such has not materialized,” BAYAN said.
Both groups called for a de-escalation of tensions in the West Philippine Sea.
Meanwhile, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) criticized the AFP for being “incapable of defending the country independently.”
The CPP said the Duterte administration’s reliance on the US military is “made worse by the government’s failure to come up with a more robust and comprehensive plan of resisting China’s aggression.”
BAYAN said the Philippine government should avail of all legal and diplomatic avenues to assert the country’s legal victory in the West Philippine Sea, while retaining the nation’s sovereignty.
Earlier, Foreign Affairs Department wrote a letter to the Chinese Ambassador in the Philippines over the presence of Chinese boats at the Julian Felipe Reef.