Santiago on sea row with China: Explore legal, diplomatic means
DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines—Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Sunday said the country should explore both legal and diplomatic means in resolving the Philippines’ sea dispute with powerhouse China in the resource-rich West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Santiago was responding to a question asked by a fisherman during the third and last presidential debate at the Phinma-University of Pangasinan here. The fisherfolk asked what the presidential candidates would do to ensure that Filipino fishermen would not be intimated by Chinese coast guard in its own waters.
“Kailangan sa lahat na bukas na paraan, bintana or pinto, papasok tayo sa diplomasiya (We must seek all open ways, windows or doors as far as diplomacy is concerned),” Santiago said.
“Kausapin natin sila, we have public opinion behind us. Ang paniwala ng buong mundo atin talaga ‘yung tubig na ‘yun, kaya ‘wag nila tayong paandaran ng ganoon,” she added.
(We should talk to China; the public opinion is behind us. The whole world believes that the disputed waters belong to us, so China should not be treating us that way.)
Citing her previous statement when she was still immigration commissioner, the feisty senator added that she would ask the Philippine coast guard to deal with Chinese forces.
“Tatawagin ko ang Coastguard, bombahin ko ‘yung mga ‘yun (I will call the Coastguard and tell them to bomb the Chinese forces),” she said.
“Napakadaling sabihin na igera natin ang China. Eh kung matalo ang China, ano ang ipapakain natin sa kanila?” she added in jest.
(It’s easy to say let’s wage war against China. But what if we beat China, what will we feed them?)
The Philippines has filed an arbitration case against China before the United Nations tribunal over the sea dispute, the ruling of which is expected to be released soon. IDL
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