Senator Richard Gordon on Sunday underscored the need for the Philippines to have a “deterrent force” in the Panatag or Scarborough shoal to assert the country’s rights over the area.
In an interview on radio dzBB, Gordon said the government should boost its military capability in the area so that China will not belittle Filipinos by harassing fishermen who operate there.
He said it was wrong for members of the Chinese Coast Guard to board Filipino fishing boats and confiscate part of their catch.
“They are harassing and intimidating our fishermen because we don’t have the capacity [to defend them],” he said.
He cited Vietnam and India, which did not back down from using might to address Chinese aggression.
Gordon, an administration ally, said President Rodrigo Duterte was not remiss in his duty to assert the Philippines’ rights in the shoal.
“We are talking. But China should respect our President,” he said.
While he acknowledged the friendship between the two countries, Gordon said what China was doing to the Philippines was “not the attitude of an elder brother to his younger brother” but that of a bully.
Gordon earlier said alliances are best seen by the actions of a people, not their words.
“You are not a reliable ally or a friend,” he said, addressing China directly. “We are not enemies of China but you are treating us as if we are interlopers in our own country.”
Gordon said the Philippines should have the resolve to tell China that it would not be bullied, adding that China should be reminded that, at the very least, the ownership of the area is still being disputed.
He also suggested that the Philippines may be forced to form alliances with Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand or perhaps the United States should Chinese bullying continues.