PH making every attempt to take diplomatic action vs unlawful activities in WPS — Esperon

CSIS / AMTI via Maxar Technologies

During his visit to the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) Mimaropa in Puerto Princesa, Palawan on Thursday, November 4, 2021, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said that the country is making every effort to take diplomatic action against illegal operations and other forms of invasions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

“Nakatutok din ang gobyerno sa mga kaganapan sa West Philippine Sea. Sa nakaraang limang taon, ang NTF (National Task Force)-WPS ay nagpupulong linggu-linggo upang patuloy ang pagmamatyag at pagtuunan ang mga usaping kaugnay sa West Philippine Sea,” said Esperon Jr., who is also chairperson of the NTF-WPS.

Esperon, the country’s top security adviser, explained that this is part of the government’s whole-of-nation approach on the issue.

“We have a harmonized, coordinated, and joint deployment of maritime assets from the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), Philippine Coast Guard, PNP (Philippine National Police) Maritime Group, BFAR (Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources) aimed at sustaining our presence,” Esperon said.

“Our national honor and territorial integrity shall be foremost in our mind,” Esperon stated, referencing President Rodrigo Duterte during his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) in 2019. “The West Philippine Sea is ours. There are no ifs and buts. It is ours.”

“The Philippines affirms that commitment in the South China Sea in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 2016 Arbitral Award,” Duterte stated at the United Nations General Assembly’s 75th session on September 22.

“That award is now part of International Law, beyond compromise and beyond the reach of passing governments to dilute, diminish, or abandon. We firmly reject attempts to undermine it,” the President added.

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