By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

Philippine Consul General to Hawaii Emil Fernandez (PNA photo by Joyce Rocamora)

HONOLULU, Hawaii – Filipinos in Hawaii are confident about the government’s response to defend the Philippines’ rights over the West Philippine Sea (WPS) where Chinese harassment against civilian vessels continues, the Philippine Consulate General in Honolulu said.

In an interview with reporters on the sidelines of the Fiesta de Mayo event organized by the Filipino community in Waipahu on May 4 (Hawaii time), Consul General Emil Fernandez said Filipinos living and working on the islands have been monitoring the developments over the waters.

“Filipinos here keep abreast of developments back home because they still have relatives and friends living there,” he said.

He said they see and read about the incidents happening in the area, but they are “confident that our government, our administration, are doing the right things to protect us, to protect our sovereignty”.

Meanwhile, Filipino Community Center (FilCom) in Hawaii vice chairperson Eva Rose Washburn-Repollo said she believes most Filipinos in the state “are very concerned” about the WPS issue.

Given the geographical location of Hawaii, she said she was anxious about the possibility of a conflict erupting over the WPS.

The same goes for Filcom Board of Directors member Edmund Aczon, saying a rift between China and the US over this is “always a possibility”.

READ: PH, Japan, US, Aussie defense chiefs call out Chinese actions in SCS

Similar concerns are felt by Filipinos in New York and California.

In a recent interview, Philippine Consul General in New York Senen Mangalile said a number of Filipinos in his areas of jurisdiction are “sympathetic” to the Philippines.

When it comes to the WPS, he said they understand that what happens in the area could be a potential threat to their families back home.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has assured Filipinos that the Philippines “will not lose an inch of its territory” and that it will continue to uphold its territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Since the start of the administration, the Philippines has filed dozens of diplomatic protests against Chinese incursions into the country’s exclusive economic zone.

Most recently, the Department of Foreign Affairs summoned the Chinese Embassy of Manila Deputy Chief of Mission Zhou Zhiyong over the harassment of Philippine vessels conducting routine humanitarian missions to Bajo de Masinloc last April 30.

During the latest mission, China Coast Guard and Chinese maritime militia ships subjected the Filipino vessels to “harassment, ramming, swarming, shadowing and blocking, dangerous maneuvers, and use of water cannons,” among other aggressive actions. (PNA)