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Defense Secretary has strong words vs China provocation in West PH Sea

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By Veronica Uy

In a decisive statement, the Defense Secretary Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro Jr. has criticized China’s claims and actions in the West Philippine Sea, highlighting the contentious “ten-dash line” as the primary source of tension.

“We do not want to be pulled into straying from the main points,” he said at the Sweden National Day celebration late last week. “What is the provocation in the South China Sea? It is the ten-dash line, pure and simple. Nothing else.”

Teodoro said China is trying to divert attention to minor tactical details, steering the conversation away from the overarching issue.

“China wants us to go into the small details to forget the main message. The main message is the ten-dash line is the provocation. And everything flows from that,” he said.

Teodoro stressed that China has no legitimate claim over the West Philippine Sea and other areas under Philippine jurisdiction.

“They have no business being anywhere in the West Philippine Sea and other areas where we have jurisdiction. They are trying to bait us from straying from the main points and dragging us into an action drama debate where we focus on minor details which stray us from the main message,” he said.

The Defense Secretary reiterated the importance of staying focused on the central issue.

“Let’s stick to the message. Let’s stick to what their violation is, which is their ten-dash line. Yan ang puno’t dulo ng lahat ng gulo. So, yang ten-dash line, ano’ng tawag niyo, hindi ba provokasyon? Pumapasok na sa karagatan mo. Anong tawag dun? Common sense.”

On holding dialogues with Chinese defense officials, Teodoro was clear: “Wala kaming ano mang pag-uusap ng defense official. Wala kasi dapat ito ay diplomatiko. Wala kaming pag-uusap dahil ang usapan ay dapat may plataporma na open, open and transparent and based on principles founded on international law. Kailangan open and transparent kasi dapat katanggap-tanggap siya sa tao, sa mga Pilipino, na ito ay legal at pabor sa interes ng Pilipinas. Kung hindi itatakwil ito.”

The Secretary said the Philippines’ message is peace, but “the message of peace does not mean appeasement. And appeasement does not mean peace. Appeasement will only fuel the appetite of somebody who has bad designs.”

This strong stance by the Defense Secretary underscores the Philippines’ unwavering position on the West Philippine Sea issue and its commitment to safeguarding national sovereignty based on international law.

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