Palace: Philippines focused on diplomatic approach to settle South China Sea row

By on August 14, 2015


(Wikipedia photo)
(Wikipedia photo)

MANILA – The Philippines is focused on pushing for a peaceful solution to its territorial row with China, a Malacañang official said on Thursday.

While there may be a reasonable basis for arms build-up, as projected by Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, the Philippine government’s diplomatic approach remains, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. told reporters during the daily press briefing.

“Mayroong makatuwirang batayan si Justice Carpio para maglatag ng sitwasyon na maaaring maganap ‘yung tinatawag na arms build-up or defense build-up, pero ang focus po natin diyan ay hinggil doon sa rules-based, diplomatic approach to achieving a peaceful solution,” Secretary Coloma explained.

Justice Carpio said that unless the South China Sea issue is resolved, countries involved in the territorial dispute will boost their respective navies and air forces.

“Ang nabatid natin hinggil sa pakikipag-talakayan ni Justice Carpio sa mga miyembro ng Senado ay ito: Sinabi niya na mahalaga ‘yung pagkakaisa ng mga bansa sa ASEAN para makabuo ng isang unified stand at batid natin na nagsisikap ang mga bansa sa ASEAN na bigyan ng sustansiya ang Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea sa pamamagitan ng pagbubuo ng isang legally binding code of conduct. Iyan ang focus ng ating atensyon,” said Coloma.

On Tuesday, Chinese envoy Zhao Jianhua said China will start building facilities to support freedom of navigation, search and rescue efforts, and scientific research on the reclaimed islands.

Coloma said China should stop the construction work in the disputed waters, reiterating the Philippines’ position that was presented by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario during the recent ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in Malaysia.

“Sa nakaraang ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting ay ipinahayag ni Secretary Albert del Rosario na tatlong bagay ang ating hinihiling na itigil: una, itigil ang reclamation activities; ikalawa, itigil ang construction activities; at ikatlo, itigil ang anomang aksyon na nagpapataas ng tensyon sa rehiyon. Kaya’t iyan pa rin ang ating posisyon hinggil sa mga isinasagawang aksyon sa mga lugar na tinutukoy sa West Philippine Sea,” the Palace official said.