Youth group reps raises China issue with Defense Sec. Lorenzana
Officers of a transnational Filipino youth group met with Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana last September 5 to present their concerns and clarify the Philippine government’s stand on China’s territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea.
The National Youth Movement for the West Philippine Sea (NYMWPS) headed by its global chairperson and founder, Saipan-based Dr. Celia Lamkin who joined the meeting online, also presented to the DND secretary its the projects and plans to advance youth awareness of the contested marine area.
NYMWPS is a transnational youth group that advocates the upholding and preservation of the country’s territorial sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea, which earned the favorable 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague for the Philippines.
The DND chief was happy to hear that the group has given support to the troops assigned in the Ayungin Shoal and the residents of Pag-asa Islands through donations and livelihood projects.
Lorenzana in recent months led the flag-raising ceremony in Pag-asa Island, which raised concern from China who continues to claim territorial ownership of the area despite the UN Tribunal decision.
Lorenzana maintained that the Philippines needs to manage the conflict peacefully and collaboratively, pointing out that the tension in Panatag Shoal has somehow lessened because of this strategy.
“As of now, the country cannot afford to go to war,” Lorenzana was quoted as saying, pointing out the present capabilities of the armed forces, which is no match to the superpower capabilities of China.
Lorenzana reiterated the need to advance the AFP modernization program, which he hopes Congress would act on fast specifically, by granting a bigger budget that would support the program.
The DND chief has also shared with the group the development program for Pag-asa Island, saying that the department has already allocated a budget for it. Foremost among the development efforts is the improvement of the runway and plans to put up a marine research station, fishermen wharf and the possibility of promoting the island as a diving spot.
Lorenzana thanked the group for its enthusiasm and dedication. A few weeks back, the NYMWPS representatives also met with Magdalo Partylist Representative Gary Alejano who promised them to support their cause by way of legislation.
Former Congressman and Subic Bay Metropolitan Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) chair Felicito Payumo assured the group that, “my position hews closely to that of Justice Antonio Carpio and former Congressman Roilo Golez. The Constitution mandates that the government protect our national territories including our Exclusive Economic Zones in the West Philippines Seas.” He added that “we will never go wrong if we follow the Constitution.”
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