By admitting that the country could not go to war with China, President Benigno Aquino III was just telling the truth, senators said Tuesday.
“It’s a fact. Besides, I think war is an outmoded and archaic mode of settling disputes between states,” said Senator Francis Escudero in a text message.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said: “The President is just being honest! It’s no bluffing matter. He is right.”
Asked if Mr. Aquino, by resorting to diplomatic channels, was doing the right thing, Sotto said: “I think so.”
In a phone interview, Senator Edgardo Angara supported the President’s handling of the latest standoff in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) because of the clear advantage of China—its “Blue Navy’s firepower,” not to mention its newly acquired aircraft carrier.
“China is asserting its perceived interest too aggressively for anyone’s comfort,” he said.
Angara said the United Nations, not the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, was the proper forum to settle the dispute with China.
“Ultimately, because we live in a community of nations, we mediate efforts through the conflict-resolution mechanism of the UN, so that the UN can come in as an arbiter. The natural arbiter is Asean, but they’re straddling opposite positions,” said Angara.
He said Asean members could not be expected to take the side of the Philippines in this dispute over Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal because they have to protect their interests first.
“They are our friends, but our natural allies and regional counterparts are lukewarm or tepid because of various reasons, including trade and investments with China, and the presence of a large Chinese ethnic (population) within (their) borders.”