Aquino appeals for calm, patience in sea row-A A +A
Thursday, July 26, 2012
PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III on Thursday appealed for calm and patience among claimant regions in dealing with the territorial disputes in West Philippine Sea.
The Chief Executive made the statement amid reports that tensions in the disputed region could possibly lead to armed conflict.
"Let us reiterate, our interest is a peaceful resolution of this conflict," he said in an interview at the sidelines of the 114th founding anniversary of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
He said talks of possible armed conflict should stop as it will only "enhance the prospects" of having such scenario.
"We need to be patient and calm. We need to do research on how to resolve this and protect the interest of our people," the President added.
Asked if the Philippines is ready if the tension escalates into armed conflict, he said, "We are always ready based on our own limitations."
The Philippines entered into a territorial conflict with China since April after Chinese vessels prevented a Philippine Navy ship from arresting Chinese fishermen in the Panatag (Scarborough) shoal.
The Panatag shoal, also referred to as Bajo de Masinloc, is located in the West Philippine Sea.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) earlier filed a diplomatic protest against China after the latter established Sansha city in an island being claimed by the Philippines.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda earlier refuted the observations of the International Crisis Group that tensions in the West Philippine Sea could escalate into armed conflict.
Lacierda said "we are no way on the brink of armed conflict," adding the country continues to conduct a peaceful discussion with China.
"We have done it through diplomatic means and we will continue to maintain a policy of de-escalation," he added.
He said the Philippines continues to advocate the creation of a binding Code of Conduct that will govern actions in the region.
As this developed, a member of the House of Representatives said the United Nations (UN) should consider sending peacekeeping forces in the West Philippine Sea if the tension in the disputed waters rises to a dangerous level.
"Probably in our campaign, we include proposition for UN to send peacekeeping forces if the situation gets worse," Muntinlupa City Representative Rodolfo Biazon, chair of the House committee on national defense and security, said Thursday.
Biazon also said the government should send back Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) ships and show flags of the Philippines to assert its sovereignty over the disputed territorial waters.
The House panel chairman also opposed the idea of entering into a partnership with China on exploration of resources.
Philex Petroleum Corporation where businessman Manuel Pangilinan is chairman is set to enter a joint exploration deal with China National Offshore Oil Corp.
"At any time China commits a violation of international law, we must always file a protest," Biazon added.
Biazon also said he will scrutinize the 2013 budget for the national defense once deliberations start next month.
President Aquino, meanwhile, expressed his appreciation to the Department of Foreign Affairs for its continued efforts to uphold Philippine sovereignty in dealing with claimants to the contested areas in the West Philippine Sea.
In his speech during the DFA anniversary, the President said the DFA’s push for a Code of Conduct in the disputed area is in line with his directive to reach a resolution on the issue diplomatically.
He reiterated the government’s stance that although there should be discussions on who can lay claim to certain parts of the West Philippine Sea, "the proximity of other parts to the Philippines should mean it belongs to us and should be left out of any discussions." (Jill Beltran/Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)