PH to assert sea rights through friendly talks with China
Malacañang Palace insists that a peaceful dialogue with China will solve issues in the West Philippine Sea, after the results of a recent survey showed that most Filipinos would want to regain control of disputed islands in the area.
“We are one with our people in seeking to assert our sovereign rights and territorial claims in the WPS,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement on Sunday.
A survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations showed that an overwhelming number of people would prefer the government to take action on the Chinese militarization in the region and eventually retake the islands.
However, Roque said that Duterte administration had chosen to differ with the previous administration’s moves in dealing with the issue.
“Having seen how the confrontational approach of the previous administration only spurred greater militarization, we have shifted to a conciliatory tack and friendly dialogue with China,” Roque said.
According to Malacañang, the government will use a “bilateral consultation mechanism (BCM) to resolve issues”, as the government beefs up its military assets and its “capability to monitor and defend our maritime interests.”
In 2013, during the term of President Benigno Aquino III, the Philippines filed an arbitration case against the People’s Republic of China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, The Netherlands.
Aquino administration filed the case after China claimed that certain islands in the controversial region belonged to them as an effect of the os-called Nine-Dash Line, a border that was based allegedly on historical claims.
On July 12, 2016, the tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines, saying that the nine-dash line is “invalid.”
China never recognized the case, and did not participated in hearings.
During the previous administration, there were reports of Filipino fishermen being harassed by the Chinese Coast Guard.
During the term of President Rodrigo Duterte, complaints have so far been minimal and fishermen themselves attested that they can now fish in the region.
However, they also said that the Chinese authorities are still in control of Scarborough Shoal. /atm
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