FOR Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, the country’s strategy on the West Philippine Sea (WPS) must be tied to economic development, saying this is the edge of China and even smaller countries like Vietnam.
“Ang akin lang advice sa Pilipinas, any strategy in the West Philippine Sea has to have a strategy of economic development,” the senator told reporters in a recent media interview.
“Kung hindi, parati na lang tayo y’ung mahirap na kapitbahay, parati tayong nasa gilid,” he added.
Cayetano said China was able to mature its policies and its military because of its economic development, which had pushed it to become a global superpower over the last decades.
He likened the Philippines to small communities at the edges of more prosperous areas like Ayala-Alabang, Ayala Avenue, and Bonifacio Global City. This, he said, makes it difficult for the country to make its voice heard and assert its position when it comes to the West Philippine Sea.
“We have to find a sustainable strategy and framework in dealing with the West Philippine Sea with all of our neighbors. In the same manner na nakahanap tayo ng paraan to deal with Malaysia and Vietnam, we have to find a way to deal with China,” he said.
“Having said that, it’s easier said than done kasi depende din doon sa aksyon n’ung kabila… Kasi malaking bagay nito ay y’ung diplomacy at geopolitics,” he added.
Tension at the WPS heightened on Friday, November 10, when dozens of Chinese coast guard and other ships chased encircled Philippine vessels in the Ayungin Shoal and even blasted a water cannon toward a motorboat that was delivering food and other supplies to the BRP Sierra Madre.
Cayetano said things could “get worse” when it comes to the West Philippine Sea because of the tense relationship between China and the United States.
“Lumalalim ang geopolitics around the world. Y’ung (actions) ng America, apektado tayo kasi kapitbahay natin ang China… Sa China, you have to understand it’s also (their) national security ang tinitingnan nila dyan sa West Philippine Sea,” he said.
He said the Philippines can take the example of Vietnam, particularly on how it has been developing its economy over the past years.
“If you look at Vietnam, that’s what they are doing. And where are they starting? Babalik tayo sa education,” he said.
“Vietnam is coming up with one of the best education systems in the world. So we have to act on the (education) crisis (in our country),” Cayetano, who has been batting for the improvement of the country’s education system, said.| –