Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros today said she found a “strong but prudent” diplomatic voice for the country’s operations at the West Philippine Sea in Rear Admiral Erick Kagaoan, deputy chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. 

HONTIVEROS 1 - Hontiveros lauds senior AFP officer for strong insights on WPH issue
Sen. Risa Hontiveros
(Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

At the Commission on Appointments (CA) public hearing today at the Senate building in Pasay city, Hontiveros lauded Kagaoan as he affirmed the principle that the Philippines would always stand for our national sovereignty with regard to WPS disputes. 

Kagaoan is the most ranking among 59 other senior AFP officers whose appointments or nominations were later confirmed by the CA in plenary session presided by Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III, concurrent CA chairman.

Kagaoan gave his opinion on the implications of a seemingly aggressive possible defense secretary of the United States on the tensions around China’s artificial islands in the WPS.

He then asserted that “any move that will sustain the stability and security of the South China Sea, especially the WPS, and any move strategically and diplomatically is so welcomed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.” 

Hontiveros manifested in appreciation of the officer’s answer: “It was a response that was strong and at the same time prudent, as befitting a comparatively small country like us, which seeks peace in our region but has national pride,” she said. 

“He couched it in language that was also very diplomatic. I appreciate that kind of expression of the policy of our Armed Forces, which I think is very healthily in line with our best policy as a country that seeks peace. And we seek it through primarily diplomatic and political means kaya nga napakahalaga ng ating diplomatic victory sa The Hague,” Hontiveros said. (Our diplomatic victory at the {United Nations Arbitral Court} at the Hague is very valuable.)

Senator Francis Tolentino asked AFP officials on the bellicose statements of Chinese officials that its Coast Guard should be aggressive against  anyone encroaching on its claimed South China Sea territories.

Tolentino asked Kagaoan on his views on the bellicose statement of Michelle Flournoy, a former US assistant defense secretary during the Obama administration, who stated that, if posted at the Pentagon, it would take her 72 hours to sink any man-made island in the contested South China Sea  .

China had reclaimed parts of the islets and reefs in the contested West Philippine Sea into a large air and naval ports. The area is in the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), 

Tolentino said it was Flournoy who was responsible for the US intervention in Libya. 

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