By Priam Nepomuceno

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. (PNA file photo)

MANILA – Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. maintained that tensions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) are heightened by China’s illegal “10-dash line” claim.

Teodoro made the remark on the sidelines of the Swedish National Day celebration and reception for Swedish Defense Minister Pål Jonson on June 7, the DND said in a news release Tuesday.

“China wants us to go to the small details to forget the main message. The main message is: The ten-dash-line is the provocation. And everything flows from that,” Teodoro said.

He said Beijing has no business in the WPS and other areas where Manila has jurisdiction.

Teodoro said narratives are being whittled down to the tactical level to distract the Filipino public and the international community from focusing on the root cause of the tensions in the WPS.

“They are trying to bait us by straying from the main points and dragging us into an action-drama debate, where we focus on minor details which stray us from the main message. Let’s stick to the message,” he added.

The DND chief also said the government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, is continuously undertaking efforts to manage WPS tensions.

He, however, said no discussions at the defense level are underway and that any agreement or talks should be open, rooted in international law, and uphold Philippine national interests. (PNA)