Developing nuclear weapons not the way to proceed on sea row – defense chief

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Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, ‪April 20‬) — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Saturday said developing the Philippines’ nuclear arsenal is not the way to enforce the victory it has over China in an international tribunal.

“Develop our own nuclear weapons to enforce the tribunal ruling? Very unlikely for several reasons,” Lorenzana said in a statement sent to reporters.

This is in response to Senate bet Juan Ponce Enrile’s proposal to develop the country’s nuclear weaponry in order to assert the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling on the West Philippine Sea dispute in July 2016. The award recognises the Philippines’ sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea.

READ: Want to stand up to China? Develop nuclear weapons, Enrile says

“We appreciate Sen. Enrile’s patriotic duty to suggest how to protect what is legally ours but developing a nuclear weapon is not the way to proceed,” Lorenzana added.

The Philippines’ defense chief said the country is not “technically and technologically capable” to create nuclear weaponry. He added that the Philippines is a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

Lorenzana added the Constitution states the the Philippines denounces war as an instrument of national policy.

“(A) nuclear weapon is not a defensive weapon but an offensive one,” he explained.

The Philippines is also a signatory to the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty.

Enrile’s remarks come amid sightings of Chinese vessels in Philippine-occupied Pag-asa Island in the Spratly Island group from January to March this year. Manila has filed diplomatic protests against the presence of these vessels.