Aquino sees no war with China


President Benigno Aquino III. INQUIRER file photo

BONGABONG, Oriental Mindoro—President Benigno Aquino III is not about to be flustered by the fiery language of Chinese officials.

The President said Sunday he did not think China would go to war with the Philippines over Scarborough Shoal.

Mr. Aquino was asked by reporters during a visit here to comment on a Chinese general’s call for China to take decisive actions against the Philippines to resolve the territorial dispute in the area which Filipino officials alternatively call Panatag Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc.

He replied that there were more “severe” headlines in the official Chinese newspaper People’s Daily, pointing to one that said, “Prepare to hear the sounds of canons.” He said that the Chinese were fond of speaking in “metaphors.”

“We don’t think that at this point in time that they will engage in any military activities,” the President said. He said that since the impasse began three weeks ago, he had taken actions “geared toward deescalating the situation.”

“It’s clear it is to nobody’s benefit, and there are a lot of repercussions, if any military force happens to be employed here. So we think that is more a statement that lacks substance. It’s not indicative of the real intentions,” he said.

He added that the general “did not command policy in the People’s Republic.”

Gathering evidence

The President said the government had been documenting developments at Scarborough Shoal as possible evidence against China before an appropriate international body.

He also said that the Department of Justice was consulting with various departments “to really define the basis of all the rules and regulations and which local and international laws that we subscribe to are currently in operation.”

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario left on Saturday for Washington for talks with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday. Joining the discussions that will include the Scarborough impasse will be Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and his US counterpart, Leon Panatta.

He told reporters that the talks would center on increasing “our capacity for territorial defense and maritime security” under the Mutual Defense Treaty. He said this year US defense assistance would reach $144.66 million.

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said in an interview over dzBB that China might be inadvertently “invading” the Philippines with its presence in Scarborough Shoal.

Santiago, an expert in international law who has been elected to the International Criminal Court, advocated a “binding regional code of conduct” among claimant-nations to force China to talk peace.

Customary law

She said the diplomatic protest lodged by Manila against Beijing since the April 10 standoff “will be useful when we meet before an international court that … It will be evidentiary proof, among many other pieces of evidence, that we’re being consistent and have been practicing international public customary law.”

“The Senate should pass a resolution proclaiming our territorial sovereignty over Scarborough Shoal and explaining what is the basis, and referring it to the Department of Foreign Affairs for referral to China. That’s how it will play out,” Santiago said.

Show courage

“We’re repeating this over and over again because that is one of the requirements of the international customary law, repetition, so we must repeatedly assert that it is ours,” she said.

Philanthropist Loida Nicolas-Lewis has called on the government to “show courage” by hitting back at China for “bullying” small countries like the Philippines and violating the country’s territorial sovereignty.

“China is a bully … She must be hit with moves like trade tariff. Let the Philippine Congress show its courage by passing a law that would impose tariff on all Chinese goods,” Lewis told the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Saturday.

“If China files a case against us before the World Trade Organization for violation of the free trade agreement, then we could pursue our plan to bring the Scarborough Shoal case to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (based in Hamburg, Germany),” said Lewis, chair of the New York-based US Pinoys for Good Governance. With reports from Michael Lim Ubac and Jerry E. Esplanada

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • AFPako

    Kung kaya natin mag combat for many decades against muslim and NPA armed groups how much more this spat with China. Just give us good salary and ammo, we will take the fight to them.

    • AkoSiBudoy

      Maraming salamat pero yan mga lider natin kulang sa vision at imagination. Reactionary ang mga lider natin kung kelan may krisis tsaka mag-iisip ng solusyon. Dapat gisingin nyo ang mga lider nyo sa kasundaluhan na maghanda. Dahil mayaman ang Pilpinas at gahaman ang mga karatig bansa natin. Ang tsina ay para sa interes ng tsina hindi para sa interes ng Pilipinas!

    • pinoyusa2012

      It is better to prepare for work than prepare for war.

      • AkoSiBudoy

        In your perfect world that would make sense but dude the world is not perfect and they dont conform to what you want for it to be.

      • pinoyusa2012

        Your outlook in life is bleak. Nuts!!!

      • AkoSiBudoy

        LOL. Your world is perfect! Let me guess.. in your world theres no hunger, no crimes, no war. everyone just mind their own business? all are happy no miseries? LOL Santa Clause is not real! 

      • pinoyusa2012

        Perfection is impossible but it is what we try to attain. Have a goal.

        It is the world I hope to shape while I’m able.

        Santa is not real? oh nooooooooooooooooo!

  • pinoyusa2012

    My thoughts…

    The PH would not get immediate US military aid. I hope the whole posturing in the Shoal is over.

    The propaganda stops now.

    The debacle began when the PH military urged the PH governemnt to ask US military aid. The plan was to show imminent danger from China. The PH did not get entirely what they want but thought it was worth a try. I am afraid this process will go on.

    I encourage my kababayans to oppose this. My concern is having a PH military influenced by foreign power that is strong and capable of overthrowing the government. This may lead to military rule. During our time I was fortunate our soldiers did not obey tyrants to kill massive protesters. Nowadays, who knows.

    God Bless Us.

    • AkoSiBudoy

      The Martial Law is over dude! Get over it. Open your eyes to reality. Philippines have to make its military strong. Do you know that China got the 2nd largest budget for military spending? second only to USA? Wake up bro, we live in dangerous times

      • pinoyusa2012

        FEAR to justify military build up. You are misguided.

      • ikabod_bubwit

        Maybe. But that’s far off, if ever. In the meantime, what do you suggest the government do?

      • pinoyusa2012

        1) Discuss the issue with China. Ownership is difficult to resolve or may not be resolved. Focus on what both countries can agree with instead of what they can’t. I believe both countries could benefit from its resources.


        How do both avoid intrusions?
        How to handle traffic?
        What can both take?
        What can both built?

        2)  Instead of acquiring military hardware improve the lives of our men in uniform. Increase their salaries and use them to energize the country. This way, foreign influence is negated and the loyalty of the soldiers and officers is with the Pilipino people. 

        3) Modernization. We need Nuclear Power to power the industry of modernization.

        Ask economic assistance rather than military assistance. When we achieve economic strength and we have extra money then it is our prerogative to spend money on our military’s defensive capabilities.


      • ikabod_bubwit

        Opinion ko lang ha. Personally di ako madamot. so ok yang suggestion mo, shall we call it “joint cooperation”, “sharing”?

        Ang inaalala ko lang (and maybe yung iba dito) ay may history ang China ng pang-angkin at pananakop (Tibet, Aksai Chin, Paracels, etc.).

        What China did at Mischief Reef can easily be done with Scarborough Shoal.

      • pinoyusa2012

        My reply is shown above.

      • pinoyusa2012

        Salamat Kabayan. May katuwiran ang iyong sinabi ukol sa Historya ng China pero sa ngayon hindi ako makapaniwala na gusto nilang magpalaki at sumakop ng ibang bansa o teritoryo. Malalaman natin sa tagal tagal. Ang payo ko lang wag tayong aaksyon para palalain ang situasyon.

        With regards to Mischief Reef, I could not tell if all the information I read is true but I can only speculate. I read PH fishermen got detained and China built on it. The incident is the same. It does not constitute an aggressive stance.

        We talk to them and ask why they detained and built on the Reef. Set guidelines on how to avoid it. Then move on. I don’t think we talk to them that is why this incident happened again.

      • AkoSiBudoy

        misguided? so china’s intrusion to Philippine waters was misguided? Fear? Fear is the result of not planning ahead and getting caught by surprise! Fear is for the fools that dont do anything. 

      • pinoyusa2012

        Intrusion is different from invasion or occupation.
        Intrusion is committed by Chinese fishermens not their military.
        Even if you have weapons you think you could defend agaisnt China’s military. They have missiles. They have satelites. Are you suggesting acquiring missiles? Arms race is a dangerous game to play.

      • Jezzrel

        Why not for an ARM RACE? Weakling kasi ang tingin nila sa mga pinoy kaya kung ibully nila ay sobra, kahit sa mga workplaces sa foreign land. Kung di ka OFW, dimo siguro alam, pero diyan pa lang sa pinas eh binubully na ang mga pinay maids ng mga tsekwa 

      • pinoyusa2012

        Arms race is destructive. Why not economic race?

        Weakling? Mayroon talagang masasamang tao, sangayon ako sayo. Pero iba ito sa pangyayari sa Shoal. Basahin mo yon post ko ukol sa pangyayarin ito. Pera ito hindi pagbubully. Sana maunawaan mo ako.

  • AkoSiBudoy

    Oras na para gumusing ang mga lider natin. Itaas ang budget sa defense. Palakasin ang Navy at Airforce! Buhayin ang ROTC!

  • pinoyusa2012

    It is better to spend that money to improve the lives of Pilipinos. Hindi pwedeng ULAM ang BALA.

    • AkoSiBudoy

      Yes and give out all the territories to China.  Kaya dapat hindi na nagrebolusyon laban sa espanya! Pasakop na lang tayo sa China!

      “It’s better to die upon your feet than to live upon your knees”. Zapata

      • pinoyusa2012

        Pasakop? Is there an invasion? I admire your Patriotism but you are being mislead by the propaganda.

      • pinoyusa2012

        It’ is better to die for a cause worth dying for.  JUSTICE.

      • pinoyusa2012

        It is better to die for cause worth dying for. JUSTICE.

    • Pinoy_Reich

       Mawawalan ka pa rin ng ulam sa kalaunan kung wala kang ipon na bala. Why do you think China has to maintain the world’s largest standing army? Go and ask your Chinese handlers…

      • pinoyusa2012

        Sige magipon ka ng bala.

        China maintain a large army because there are a lot of Chinese.

        My handler is my conscience.

  • pinoyusa2012

    Geez. I need a better argument than Budoy’s.

  • CyberPinoy

    Dont bet on it Mr President, china has done this before with Vietnam in 1988 when they sink the vietnamese ship with men on board. We should assume that it will come so that we can prepare. We cannot just rule out china will not shoot and assert the claims. Kailangan lang natin enough deterent military force that can fight back in a small scale war, we dont need to match china’s power because we cant. we need Anti-ship Missiles, submarines, fight planes, remember we still have the advantage of proximity.

  • zero8hour

    kapag sinuko natin ang scarborough shoal parang sinasabi natin na sinusuko na natin o binibigay na ang buong west philippines sea kasama na ang reed bank at spratly kasi iyon ang chinese claim. kaya baka kung nasa pampang ka 3kilomoeters lang south china sea na. paano pa makakapaglayag at makapangisda,, kaya dapat huwag isuko ang talagang atin

  • sh1seadad

    All this talk of war with China is not going to help. China and the Philippines are going to have to get along together like it or not.

    • Pinoy_Reich

       Hopefully when China become a democratic country and the Chinese people will free themselves from the shackles of communism. Until then, you can not make Filipinos love China, the mere remembrance of those Chinese protestors being run-over by tanks would be enough to flame their freedom loving spirits.

  • Go

    the monstruous abnoy probably sees no war between PI and china because he can’t find any psp game about it

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks




latest videos