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PH should involve US, Asean in Scarborough Shoal dispute, says Honasan

MANILA, Philippines—Senator Gregorio Honasan warned Saturday that China was more likely to resort to military action if the Philippines continued contesting ownership of the disputed Scarborough Shoal on its own.

Honasan said bringing allies such as the United States and other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations  into the equation would discourage China from using its military might.

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Asked how likely China might attack, he told the Inquirer by phone: “If other countries like the US and those from Asean would get involved, it will hesitate.”

“If we  face them alone, they would overrun us,” he added.

But Honasan made it clear that he was still advocating a diplomatic solution to the dispute. He said the public should acknowledge that the Philippines was no match to China in terms of armed forces.

“Let’s accept it: our capability to enforce our laws is limited. We can’t even enforce our (laws in) economic zones, how much more our territorial integrity?” he said.

Honasan threw his support behind the government’s decision to bring the matter to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Seas (ITLOS). He said the objective should be to “make sure that the dispute does not end in an armed confrontation.”

In the meantime, he said, the Philippines should call for an emergency meeting with other Asean members “so they will get involved.” He said the country’s allies such as the United States should realize that Scarborough is “not just a regional issue.”

“It’s a sea lane also being used by other countries. If China would have its way, would it mean that all these countries would now have to seek its permission” to pass through the area, he asked.

Besides the diplomatic approach, the senator also urged the government to revive the proposed joint exploration of Scarborough with China. He said it would ensure mutual benefit for both countries even if the dispute was yet to be officially resolved.

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TAGS: ASEAN, China, Conflict, Diplomacy, Foreign affairs, Philippines, Scarborough Shoal, Spratly Islands, Spratlys, territorial dispute, US
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