Once a soldier is always a soldier. This is a common axiom is known to those who are in the military service which means that at the end of the day, their loyalty is to the county and not to the personality or a leader.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana revealed the plan two years ago that the Philippine Navy was supposed to drive away the Chinese from the Scarborough Shoal (a.k.a. Panatag Shoal) two years ago but President Rodrigo Duterte had other plans in mind.
In a speech at a forum on maritime disputes held in Makati City, Lorenza recollected what transpired back then.
On July 12, 2016 when the arbitral ruling was handed down ruling in favor of the Philippines and invalidated China’s nine-dash line claim over the West Philippine Sea.
“When the arbitral ruling was about to be announced, we were all in Malacañang so when it came out, we had this meeting with the president… He said we should not be overly, what they call overly celebrating because we might offend China so that’s what happened,” the Defense Chief said.
The Defense Secretary said that he was already planning to ask the Philippine Navy to send a small contingent to Scarborough Shoal prior to the ruling in order to drive away the Chinese there and maybe we can move forward to Scarborough Shoal.. He also revealed that then US Defense Secretary Ash Carter called him a week before the arbitral ruling came out.
According to Lorenzana, the Pentagon chief advised him to “exercise restraint” ahead of the ruling, adding that Carter’s call was “very significant” as he was already planning to send the navy over the traditional fishing ground among Chinese, Filipino and Vietnamese fishermen.
“What Carter said was the ruling will come out soon and we think it is in your favor. So please exercise utmost restrain… Don’t do anything in the South China Sea that will provoke some trouble there and I was thinking to myself, what does he mean by that?” Lorenzana recalled.
As ordered by the President not to “overly celebrate” the arbitral decision, then DFA Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. made the announcement on the national television.
“Yasay then went on TV and announced that we won that ruling… In that announcement he was very somber and very serious,” Lorenzana added.
Yasay welcomed the landmark ruling and then said that government experts were studying the award “with care and thoroughness that this significant arbitral outcome deserves.”
“In the meantime, we call on those concerned to exercise restraint and sobriety,” Yasay said.
The Foreign Affairs Secretary welcomed the landmark decision and then said that government experts were studying the ruling “with care and thoroughness that this significant arbitral outcome deserves and added caution to those concerned to exercise restraint and sobriety.”