Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana downplayed the threat of China’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea on Monday, October 12.
Facing senators through a Zoom budget hearing, Lorenzana described the “situation in the West Philippine Sea” as “stable” and “manageable.”
Lorenzana was responding to Senator Risa Hontiveros, who asked what the DND considers the biggest threats to the Philippines’ security.
He said the biggest threats are not external, but internal: the communist insurgency, and the terrorists, who have mostly planted their bases in Mindanao.
“We can focus more our attention on our internal threats,” Lorenzana said.
A ruling by a Hague tribunal on July 12, 2016 invalidated China’s claim over the entire South China Sea and upheld the Philippines’ rights over its waters and features. The Duterte administration has largely refused to enforce it, however, fearing a retaliation from the Asian superpower.