Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin assured Filipinos that the Marcos Administration would not surrender an inch of the country's territory, and they are defending the West Philippine Sea amid recent tensions in the disputed waters.

Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin (Tune in Kay Tunying/YouTube)
Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin (Tune in Kay Tunying/YouTube)

Bersamin said this after the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) removed the floating barriers China had installed by the entrance of the Bajo de Masinloc in the South China Sea.

In an interview with broadcast journalist Anthony Taberna, the Palace official said the country is standing by its rights in the West Philippine Sea.

"This is an administration that will not surrender an inch of our territory or sovereignty," he said in the interview which aired on "Tune In Kay Tunying" on YouTube on Sept. 28.

"I cannot make a statement about China. Let us say it in general terms — we are out there to defend," he added.

According to Bersamin, the Philippines is considering filing a case against China over its actions in the disputed area even if China chooses to ignore it.

"This is the position that the government will take, most likely. Whether we will file another case against China is one of the options. I think our lawyers are seriously giving this a study," he said.

"Merong point yung pagfa-file ng kaso, pagli-litigate kahit na hindi mag-participate ang China. Dahil ibig sabihin may resolve ka (There is a point when you litigate even if China does not participate. It shows you have resolve)," he added.

"Meron kang (You have) determination to exact some accountability in the part of China. I will be one of those who would be on the side of going against China," he continued.

The former Supreme Court Chief Justice said the Philippines will always choose to be diplomatic despite China's actions.

"We have always conducted our relations sa foreign policy natin (in our foreign policy) as diplomatic, strictly diplomatic tact. Wala tayong (We have no) aggressiveness, aggression or not," he said.

"Kaya tayo ginaganito ng China siguro dahil alam nila sa mata ng ibang bansa ay tayo ang dapat na kilalanin na merong (Perhaps China is treating us this way because it knows that other countries recognize that we have) exclusive right to all those fisheries and natural resources in that area," he added.

Despite this, Bersamin said the Philippines does not want to pick a fight with China. However, he stated that the country should not depend heavily on the Asian giant.

"We do not like to have a fight with China. We do not pick a fight with China because we can co-exist with China," he said.

"China might be our trading partner, but we should not be too dependent on China. I don't think China will even want us to be dependent on her because China knows that [we have a] multilateral approach," he added.

Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2023/9/28/bersamin-assures-public-we-re-defending-west-ph-sea)