Tell it to SunStar: Cayetano: We need a West PH Sea office in the DFA

Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 floated the idea of establishing an office in the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) dedicated to all concerns connected to the West Philippine Sea, saying simply raising diplomatic protests is not enough to assert the country’s rights in the disputed waters.

“Instead of just promoting the arbitral awards, shouldn’t we actually establish a West Philippine Sea office in DFA?” Cayetano told DFA officials in a manifestation at the Senate Committee on Finance budget meeting.

He said with each administration facing different diplomatic challenges requiring a unique set of strategies, it is necessary to establish a West Philippine Sea office within the DFA to monitor and respond to any threat to the country’s sovereignty in the area.

Cayetano, who served as Secretary of Foreign Affairs during the Duterte administration from 2017 to 2018, also said the DFA should aim not for quantity but quality in its diplomatic protests related to the West Philippine Sea.

“We can protest every day and it will mean nothing, but we can also protest just once and give all of the international law, evidence, and facts to back up our claim,” the senator said.

“Pagdating sa pag-protesta sa ating territorial rights, mas mabigat ang quality kaysa quantity (When it comes to protesting for our territorial rights, the quality [of the diplomatic protest] outweighs the quantity),” he added.

Cayetano reiterated his message to DFA officials to be “pro-Philippines” instead of aligning Manila’s foreign policy for or against any other country.

“It’s just a matter of saan nag-i-intersect. We will take our allies in good faith and their help is always acceptable, but we also recognize na hindi lahat ng allies natin exactly kapareho ang interest natin (not all our allies have the same interest with ours),” he said.