STRESSING that the Philippines’ friendship with China should be based on goodwill, Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson said the government should inform the United Nations (UN) of the alleged war threat of Chinese President Xi Jinping against the country should President Rodrigo Duterte insists in drilling for oil in Recto Bank.
Lacson, comenting on Xi’s alleged threat of war during his recent bilateral meeting with Duterte in Beijing, said “Obviously, veiled or not, threat ‘yan…assuming accurate ang pag-paraphrase ni President Duterte, obviously threat ang sinabi ng presidente ng China.”
He said “(Senior Associate) Justice (Antonio) Carpio is right. Dapat i-bring up ito sa attention ng UN. After all, China is a member. Member pa nga siya ng Security Council di ba? So dapat i-pursue natin dahil di maganda ‘yan.”
“Friendship should be based on goodwill. Pero where can you find goodwill kung may threat of going to war in case na ang claims i-pursue natin, to explore based on what we believe is ours?” he said.
However, other than informing the UN, Lacson, who is a former Philippine National Police chief, is not sure what step to take.
“It can take many forms. P’wedeng diplomatic protest. P’wedeng just a manifestation. Maraming p’wedeng gawin. But the matter should be brought to the matter of the UN. After all, we’re basing our claim sa arbitral ruling, and malinaw naman sa ruling sinabi sa atin ‘yan,” he said.
“So, wala namang pagkakamali si President Duterte nang sinabi niyang it is ours dahil may basis ‘yan. Now kung China thinks otherwise, ano ang basis naman nila? But to threaten us with war, especially ‘yung disparity ng military might ng power ng China compared to ours, medyo malaking threat ‘yan,” he added.
Despite affirming the correctness of the country’s position over the ownership of the contested bank, Lacson advised that plans to drill oil in the area should be carefully studied.
“Maraming intricacies. Kung itutuloy natin, ano ang implications? Dapat pag-aralan ding mabuti,” Lacson said.
“The point is, the crux of the issue here is the threat posited by China, by the president no less of China, during a conversation with our president,” he said.
Duterte, late last week, told newsmen that Xi made the threat after he expressed his plan to drill for oil in Recto Bank.
“We intend to drill oil there, if it’s yours, well, that’s your view, but my view is, I can drill the oil, if there is some inside the bowels of the earth because it is ours,” Duterte said recalling his conversation with Xi.
“His response to me, ‘we’re friends, we don’t want to quarrel with you, we want to maintain the presence of warm relationship but if you force the issue, we’ll go to war.”
Recto or Reed Bank, which is believed to be rich in gas and oil deposits, is within the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) but despite of it, China staked a claim on the area citing alleged historical accounts.