Left urges Aquino to hang tough vs China

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01:57 AM April 14th, 2012

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Left-leaning legislators urged President Benigno Aquino III to take a tough stand against China, but cautioned him against bringing into the picture “a much bigger bully”—the United States.

The militant lawmakers also proposed a congressional investigation into China’s latest incursion on Philippine territory.

“The militant Left firmly stands for Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares said. “Philippine territorial waters and the 200-mile exclusive economic zones belong to the Filipino people and no foreign country, be it China or the United States, should be allowed to use and exploit it for their economic, military or hegemonic interests.”

ACT party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio said the Chinese incursion on Scarborough Shoal was a clear violation of Philippine sovereignty, but the Aquino administration should not seek US diplomatic or military intervention.

Instead, he said, the administration should tap the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and the United Nations for help in diplomatic talks with China.

Tinio also suggested that the House of Representatives’ Committee on Foreign Relations engage its counterpart in the Chinese parliament for a peaceful resolution of the conflicting claims of the Philippines and China to territories in the West Philippine Sea.

The Catholic Church also advised the government against seeking US help. Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Yñiguez, chair of the Public Affairs Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said the situation would become more complicated if the Philippine government allowed the United States or any other country to meddle in the conflict.

Yñiguez said diplomacy was the best option to resolve the standoff. “We should review our claim to the island and if it is proven that it is ours, then we have the right to stand up for our claim,” he said.

Filipino fishermen are doing just that. On Friday, despite the controversy, Filipino fishermen arrived in the vicinity of Scarborough Shoal to fish, the Coast Guard reported.

“Fishing boats continue to go to Scarborough Shoal,” Lt. Cmdr. Algier Ricafrente, Coast Guard spokesperson, told reporters. “Since there is no fishing ban, they are free to fish in the area. It is ours.”

First posted 7:56 pm | Friday, April 13th, 2012

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