Palace to China: Be careful with statements-A A +A
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
MANILA (Updated 5:19 p.m.) -- Malacanang dismissed Wednesday claims of the Chinese government that the Philippines is trying to agitate tensions in the West Philippine Sea.
It was reported that the People’s Daily, which is the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China, made a commentary apparently saying that the Philippines is deliberately stirring up tensions in the South China following the statement of President Benigno Aquino III about the possibility of deploying American spy planes in the West Philippine Sea.
The newspaper also reportedly warned the Philippines about raising the South China Sea issue at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) meeting in Cambodia, saying the matter should only be discussed bilaterally.
“Can I say to the Chinese Xiao xin yi dian (Be a little careful). Be a little careful about your statements,” said presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, who has a Chinese blood, in response to China’s newspaper commentary.
He said the President’s statement should not be viewed as a provocative as Aquino himself admitted that “by no stretch of the imagination can the Philippines is considered as an aggressor.”
“Our position is always that we advocate a multilateral approach to a resolution on any matter on the South China Sea. That’s the reason why we have always advocated to let the Asean draft the Code of Conduct first before we open it up to other countries like China. That has always been our position,” Lacierda said.
Malacanang earlier explained that the flybys are meant to monitor the country’s borders and would not be offensive in nature.
“We have already explained ourselves and the DFA has already issued a statement on that point. We see no reason why it should be viewed as a provocative statement on our part,” Lacierda stressed.
Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Secretary Ramon Carandang, meanwhile, said that deployment of spy planes is something “seriously” considered to enhance the country’s ability to monitor sea lanes.
“We have taken a number of actions that try to enhance our ability to monitor our sea lanes. I’m sure you’ve heard of coast watch. Coast watch is a series of radars that we’re putting up around our territory with assistance from countries like Australia and the United States. So you have to view these surveillance flights, if they happen, in the context of a general effort to do that. Now, if nobody feels that coast watch is provocative, then they should not be viewed as provocative either,” he said.
He noted that the Philippines is merely exercising sovereign right to monitor and watch territory.
“Any sovereign country will do that and I don’t think any other country will begrudge us for doing that. As I said the other day, this is not a provocative action. There is no aggressive intent here. But every country has a right to monitor its territory and to do whatever means it sees necessary. So in the context of all these other things we’re doing, I would think that it would be something seriously considered,” he further said.
He, meanwhile, refused to disclose other operational options the government is looking at to monitor territorial waters in the West Philippines Sea. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)