Philippines shrugs off Singapore's 'correction'-A A +A
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
THE Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday took in stride the "clarification" issued by the Singaporean government over the supposed position of Singapore in the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea.
In a text message, DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said they still approve of the position taken by Singapore since it continues to share the stance taken by the Philippines in terms of resolving the dispute through peaceful means.
"Singapore supports the same principled position of the Philippines in pursuing a resolution of disputes through peaceful means in accordance with international law. It moreover encourages the exercise of restraint and is against the use of force," said Hernandez.
"Finally, it also shares with us the desire to have an early conclusion of the Asean–China Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea," he added.
Hernandez, though, admitted that it is only correct for them to say that Singapore is not taking sides in the territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea.
The statement was issued hours after the Singapore Foreign Ministry issued a clarification on news reports that the Philippines had thanked Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for his "very strong support" on the Philippine position in the dispute.
The Singaporean government stressed that Singapore is not taking sides on the separate claims of various countries in the many islands in the West Philippine Sea.
The Foreign Ministry of Singapore noted that Lee only reiterated to President Benigno Aquino III his country's position urging claimant countries to "exercise restraint and for disputes to be resolved peacefully and in accordance with international law."
News reports earlier quoted Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario as saying that Singapore is strongly supporting Philippines in terms of its position in the West Philippine Sea, including the Spratly islands, which is among the island groups being contested by China and four other Asian neighboring countries.
Spratlys is an archipelago located off the province of Palawan believed to be rich in oil and mineral reserves. It is also being claimed by China as part of its Kaohshiung municipality, as well as the countries of Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei.
Aside from the Spratlys, the Philippines was also embroiled in a naval standoff with China over Panatag or Scarborough shoal, which was about 124 nautical miles off Zambales province.
The Philippines has repeatedly proposed to bring the matter before an international arbitration body such as the International Tribunal on the Laws of the Seas under the auspices of the United Nations, where it believed it had better chances of being affirmed as true owners of the disputed isles pursuant to the rule on exclusive economic zones. (HDT/JCV/Sunnex)