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Binay: We’ll fight till the last blood

Manila, Philippines — Vice President Jejomar C. Binay on Thursday said that the Philippines will fight for its sovereignty “until the last blood,” stressing that “we are no pushover.”

He issued the statement before six visiting Philippine Marines, who had just completed their tour of duty on Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea, amid China’s aggressive incursions to the country’s territory.

AYUNGIN HEROES -- Vice President Jejomar Binay has commended Philippine Marines for their courage and dedication after staying for five months at Ayungin Shoal to guard the disputed territory. The troops, who called on Binay yesterday at the bayside Coconut Palace in Pasay City, are (from left) Cpl. Rogelio Tabilisma, PFC Mario Jerlene Pajarillo, Sgt. Edwin Galvan, D/Comm. Jose Johriel Cenabre, 1Lt. Mike Pelotera, T/Sgt. Julio Ventoza, and T/Sgt. Joselito Panganiban. (Jim Guiao Punzalan)

AYUNGIN HEROES — Vice President Jejomar Binay has commended Philippine Marines for their courage and dedication after staying for five months at Ayungin Shoal to guard the disputed territory. The troops, who called on Binay yesterday at the bayside Coconut Palace in Pasay City, are (from left) Cpl. Rogelio Tabilisma, PFC Mario Jerlene Pajarillo, Sgt. Edwin Galvan, D/Comm. Jose Johriel Cenabre, 1Lt. Mike Pelotera, T/Sgt. Julio Ventoza, and T/Sgt. Joselito Panganiban. (Jim Guiao Punzalan)

“I think that must be our position. That we are ready to fight up to the last blood,” the country’s second highest official told the six Philippine Marines soldiers.

“But as much as possible, we will always resort to peaceful means,” he however added.

The Philippines had earlier brought its territorial dispute with China before the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal.

During their courtesy call at the Coconut Palace in Pasay City Thursday night, six of the nine Philippine Marines previously stationed at the Ayungin Shoal Detachment – 1Lt. Mike C. Pelotera, TSgt Julio Ventoza, Pfc Mario Gerlene Pajarillo, Cpl Rogelio Tabilisma, TSgt Joselito D. Panganiban, and Sgt Edwin Galvan – related to Binay their experiences at the grounded BRP Sierra Madre, which serves as their headquarters.

The three other members of the platoon – Pfc Ryan Esteban, Sgt. Rey Sarmiento, and Cpl. Sheffrey T. Luna – failed to make it to the courtesy call due to prior commitments.

The nine Marines were replaced by fresh troops during the March 29 mission that was twice blocked by Chinese vessels.

Binay said the fact that the Philippine Navy was able to send replacement troops to defend Ayungin Shoal sends the message that the Philippines will always assert its sovereignty.

The Vice President, a reserved Marine colonel, expressed his pride at the actions of his fellow Marines, adding that all Filipinos should be “very proud” of their heroism.

“Kita mo naman iyong sacrifice doon. Katulad nito five months ito na-delay pa, dapat three months lang. Pero sabi nga, sundalo ay sundalo. Walang iyakan. I think when they were assigned there, that was in compliance with the order, so the order must have to be defended by all means,” he said.

Nonetheless, Binay expressed hope that relations between the Philippines and China will continue even while the issue of sovereignty over the territory is being resolved.

He acknowledged that the resolution of the issue will take time.

“Sana habang nag-uusap sa bagay na yan ay we can have – we can continue – trade and commerce with China,” he said.