By Priam Nepomuceno

DND Secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro Jr. (PNA file photo)

MANILA – Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. on Wednesday said it is unlikely for China to attack and take over the country’s territories in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

“Sa palagay ko, magdadalawang isip din naman sila. Number one, alam ng mundo ang ginagawa nila, at karamihan sa mundo ay tutol sa ginagawa nila, at kung meron man silang sentido kumon, para makumbinsi ang buong mundo na mapayapa ang kanilang hangarin, ay hindi nila gagawin yan (In my opinion, they will have second thoughts about doing that. Number one, the world knows what they are doing there, and many nations are against what they are doing there and also it is common sense that they would not do that if they want to convince the world that their intentions are peaceful),” he said in an interview with DZRH.

Teodoro said Manila has the right and obligation to defend the country’s sovereignty and territorial jurisdiction should this happen under the Constitution.

“Kaya nakikiusap po tayong sa ating mga kababayan na sana magkaisa tayo sa likod ng ating gobyerno sa pagtatanggol sa ating Saligang Batas, hindi lang naman para sa atin ito, para din sa kinabukasan ito (We are asking our Filipinos to unite and cooperate with our government to defend our Constitution, this not just for us but also for our future),” he added.

To contain China’s illegal activities in the WPS, Teodoro reiterated the need to continue building up the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for it to have a “credible defense posture” and continue coordinating with the country’s allies and partners.

PH eyes more engagements with other countries

The defense chief also said he sees more nations having security engagements with the Philippines following the collision incident in the WPS that damaged two Filipino ships engaged in a routine resupply mission for the detachment aboard the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal.

“Rather than hasten I believe it will invite more countries who have an interest in freedom of navigation to participate not only in joint sails but in other security engagements with the Philippines to include capability upgrades, intelligence exchanges and other defense military-to-military and defense-to-defense cooperation agreements to include defense industries in the country,” Teodoro said in an interview with Radyo Pilipinas.

He gave this response when asked whether the incident will expedite the Philippines’ plans to have joint patrols with its allies in the WPS.

Teodoro, however, declined to disclose details on the matter.

On Oct. 22, Chinese Coast Guard and maritime militia vessels tried to prevent anew the Philippine routine resupply to BRP Sierra Madre (LS-57) in Ayungin Shoal, deliberately bumping supply boat Unaiza May 2 and its escort, BRP Cabra (MRRV-4409).

The other supply boat, Unaiza May 1, completed the delivery to the troops aboard BRP Sierra Madre.

Support from several nations poured in for the Philippines while condemnation rained on China following the incident.

Both the Philippines and China filed diplomatic protests over the incident. (PNA)