Task Force launches roadshow to counter West Philippine Sea misinformation

MANILA, (PIA) — The National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea (NTFWPS) kicked off a nationwide roadshow on Monday aimed at fighting disinformation about the disputed waters.

At the inaugural forum in San Juan, La Union, officials outlined efforts to educate Filipinos on their rights and interests in the resource-rich region also claimed by China. PIA-Region 1 streamed the event on Facebook.

It is critical for the government to address inaccurate narratives from various sources, including the Chinese government,” said National Security Council Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya.

Through the roadshow, the task force hopes to establish grassroots media partnerships to spread accurate information, rather than relying on rumor-rife social media. The event is attended by Philippine Coast Guard Commodore Jay Tristan Tarriela, Lawyer Fretti Ganchoon of the Department of Justice, and PIA Deputy Director-General Adolfo Ares Gutierrez.

Malaya stressed that although distant from the South China Sea, every Filipino has a stake in the territorial rift. He warned that Chinese actions posed a threat to food security by disrupting fishing grounds that provide sustenance and livelihoods for millions.

Food security is integral to national security,” Malaya said. “If there are food shortages due to access restrictions, that could create problems nationwide.”

He also suggested that oil and gas reserves in the area could uplift the Philippine economy if tapped. “It’s critical for our future as a country,” Malaya added.

While asserting its sovereignty claims, the Philippines continues to favor diplomatic dialogue over military confrontation, in keeping with constitutional principles, according to Malaya. But the armed forces are also bolstering deterrence capabilities through modernization and new security partnerships with other countries.

The roadshow aims to counter China’s information campaign challenging Philippine territorial claims. Despite a 2016 international tribunal ruling that invalidated the expansive “nine-dash line” used by China to claim historic rights across the South China Sea, Beijing has continued to ignore the decision and take assertive actions within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

Tensions have recently escalated, with Manila filing new protests over the “illegal presence” of Chinese research ships and warships near Philippine-occupied islands and territorial waters. The dispute has emerged as a crucial test for President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., who took office in 2022. (PIA-NCR)

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