If the Philippine government’s recent actions concerning the country’s territorial dispute are any indication, then the Duterte administration is making its stand known.
From merely sending diplomatic protests, the government has become more assertive in word and deed as far as sending a message that it is determined to protect every inch of Philippine territory.
The National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS), for one, has led the conduct of “sovereignty patrols” with the deployment of several vessels from the Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard, and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. The Philippine National Police also has mobilized its marine assets.
Said patrols are “in response to the continued illegal presence of foreign vessels,” according to the NTF-WPS.
Talking about the issue means Philippine allies are also getting involved one way or the other.
The United States, the country’s lone long-standing military ally forged through the Mutual Defense Treaty, has repeatedly vowed to back the Philippines’ territorial claim.
Flexing its big brother muscles, the US even deployed several of its striker teams to the disputed waters.
It’s not a forceful means of striking back, with the Philippines obviously inferior in terms of size of forces and assets. Still, the “flick of a finger,” for now, will suffice to send out a message that asserting the country’s sovereignty is non-negotiable and no amount of intimidation can take that right away from every Filipino fighting for it.