Singapore PM denies supporting Philippine position on territorial dispute-A A +A
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
MANILA -- Singapore is not taking sides on the overlapping claims of different countries in the resource-rich islands in the West Philippine Sea, debunking a previous announcement from Filipino officials who met Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong over the weekend.
In a statement, the Singapore Foreign Ministry said, Lee only reiterated to President Benigno Aquino III his country’s position advising claimant nations to “exercise restraint and for disputes to be resolved peacefully and in accordance with international law.”
Both countries had a bilateral meeting on Saturday at the sidelines of the 20th Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Vladivostok, Russia.
“We have seen the reports in question. You all know how free the Filipino media is; they can even be very free with the facts,” referring to articles in the Philippine Star and the Manila Bulletin.
The Bulletin quoted Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario as saying that Aquino thanked the Singaporean premier for his “very strong support” on the Philippine position using the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS) as basis.
Singapore even criticized the Philippine press for coming out with the reports, saying it is dealing with fiction.
Foreign Affairs spokesperson Raul Hernandez is not immediately available for comment as of this posting Tuesday.
Present at the APEC meeting as well was Chinese President Hu Jintao but he failed to meet Aquino because of conflicting schedules. China lays claim to the whole disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea.
Last July, Cambodia blocked the Philippines’ move to include the issue about the ongoing standoff with China over the resource-rich Scarborough Shoal which is within the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone based on international law.
It is the first time in its 45 years of existence that the Association of Southeast Nations (Asean) failed to issue a statement regarding a pressing matter at the conclusion of its meetings. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)