Mutual respect urged amid sea row

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Sunday, March 30, 2014


CHINA must consider that a peaceful resolution of the conflict over ownership of some islands in the West Philippine Sea would be impossible without mutual respect, Vice President Jejomar Binay said Sunday, following fresh tension in the disputed Ayungin Shoal.

“While we value our strong ties, this is not at the expense of Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity. I ask China to refrain from taking action that exacerbates the conflict,” he said.

Reports said a Philippine Navy research vessel transporting food and supplies to soldiers guarding the shoal near Palawan was blocked by two Chinese Coast Guard vessels on Saturday, a day after the Philippines announced it will file a case against China at an arbitration tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands. The Philippine government ship, though, slipped past the blockade Saturday.

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“The Philippines has raised the issue before the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal. As a member of the community of nations, it is only expected of China to respect the proceedings and abide by its decision,” Binay said, even as China has been opposing the move to bring the issue to international arbitration.

Fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) put "serious doubts" on the sincerity of the Aquino administration in filing the case, saying the country is being used by the United States to confront China, an emerging global economic power.

"We believe national interest is not the real engine of this UN complaint, and what is in the core of this complaint is US sinister agenda in South China Sea that includes military hegemony, control of navigation and oil and gas resources," said Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France.

France said nothing will happen in the case since Beijing refuses the process and will not abide by the decision of the UN.

The militant group said a better option is to explore bilateral talks with Beijing.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, displaying its reach on official maps with a so-called nine-dash line that stretches deep into the maritime heart of Southeast Asia and encroaches on the 200-mile exclusive economic zones of surrounding countries including the Philippines.

Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims over the territory, a major shipping lane which is believed to be rich in oil and gas and marine animals. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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