PH defense chief sees no need for US help vs China
MANILA, Philippines—Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Tuesday maintained that the Philippines need not seek help from the United States amid the ongoing stand-off with China at the Scarborough Shoal, locally called Panatag. He made known his stand a day after the formal opening of the US-Philippines joint war games, dubbed Balikatan.
In a press briefing at the Department of National Defense, Gazmin said that the Philippines has not asked for help from the United States, particularly with regards to monitoring the situation in the shoal. “Dito sa mga bagay na ito ay hindi natin kailangan humingi ng tulong sapagkat ito’y atin, eh (When it comes to this kind of matters, we don’t need to ask for help because this territory is ours),” Gazmin told reporters.
“Kung tutulong sila, kusa dapat silang tumulong, hindi natin kailangan humingi sa kanila ng tulong dahil atin ang lugar na ito. Maliwanag na maliwanag na atin ito, na kahit anong batas, tayo ay mananaig (If they will help, they should do so on their own, we don’t need to ask for help because this territory is ours. It’s very, very clear that it is ours, and under any law we shall prevail),” he added.
Gazmin also lashed at legislators calling for the strengthening of the Philippine-US alliance as a way to deter China from bullying the Philippines.
“Hindi naman yata tama yung ganun na parati na lang tayong umaasa sa ibang bansa. Kinakailangan nating tumayo on our ownl (We shouldn’t be relying on anyone, we should stand on our own and right now, we are in the process of trying to diplomatically settle the issue),” Gazmin said.
Gazmin opined that the US will help the Philippines if the Panatag stand-off will affect its own interests.
Meanwhile, Gazmin said that despite the ongoing stand-off, the Philippine government is still seeking for a diplomatic solution to the conflict, as per instructions of President Benigno Aquino III.
“Our command guidance is to fight for what is ours, we shall remain in the area and we will not leave and we will continue talks between the Chinese authorities here in the Philippines and our foreign affairs department,” Gazmin said in Filipino.
He also expressed his confidence that a peaceful solution will be found.
“I am very optimistic that we will reach a peaceful conclusion. I’m sure China will not go to war because of this, we cannot afford a war at this time,” Gazmin said.
He added that a solution to this stand-off would be for both countries to appear before an international court of justice. However, Gazmin said that China has consistently refused international court proceedings.
“Tayo lang ang nagpoporsigi na dalhin do’n sa korte. Sila (China) ayaw nila. Sabi nila kanila but ang basis nila is history, tayo yung atin, may batas na nagde-declare na atin talaga yun (We are the ones pushing that this be brought to a court. China doesn’t want that. They base their claim on history, and our claim is based on the law, which declares the territory is ours),” Gazmin said referring to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which affirms the Philippines’ claim over Panatag.
Gazmin confirmed that tensions are still high in the Panatag area since there are still two Chinese maritime surveillance ships, numbers 81 and 71, and a Chinese fishing vessel in the vicinity. Meanwhile, the Philippines still has its Coast Guard ship 002, a private ship, MY Sarangani, which was commissioned by the National Historical Institute to conduct archaeological survey in the area, and a Filipino fishing vessel.
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