Aquino underscores importance of dialogue in West Philippine Sea row

Posted in News | Posted on 01-10-2011

Saturday, October 1, 2011

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III highlighted the importance of dialogue and diplomacy in dealing with China and other neighboring countries with regard to the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea, or South China Sea for China.

Answering a question raised during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) 100 Leaders Forum Thursday evening, the President said the Philippines and China both saw “eye to eye” on the issue and agreed that the territorial dispute is “not the sum total” of the relationships of both countries.

“The South China Sea or what we call the West Philippine Sea issue has to be resolved but, at the same time, when I talked to your leaders: President Hu Jintao, Premiere Weng Jiabao and others, we did agree that this is not the sum total of our relationships,” the President said.

By participating in a continuous dialogue, world leaders can thresh out any differences and discover that they have the same focus and advocacy in terms of governing their respective peoples.

As neighbors, the Philippines and China face other issues such as global warming and piracy but both have chosen to focus on that which is mutually supportive and beneficial, he said.

“So in this particular case, we are neighbors. The problems that affect the Philippines also affect China. Global climate change will not be kept by our borders. Piracy is not solely our issue. Trying to uplift the lot of all of our countrymen is also a common concern and in that aspect, there are so many areas where there can be mutually supportive, mutually beneficial activities at both ends and I think your country’s leadership is really focused as we are. Why concentrate on the issues that cause disputes between us and neglect those that can really redound to the improvement of our peoples’ lot?” he said. “So we are concentrating actually on areas where we can cooperate and we do see eye to eye and try to minimize any conflicts that we could possibly have.”

Aquino also pointed out the Luneta hostage crisis last August 2010 as an “exemplar” of what good dialogue can do to ease tensions between China and the Philippines.

“The hostage crisis I think is exemplar. We talked with the leadership of China, the (Chinese) embassy here, various leaders in Hong Kong in what could have been transformed into a situation that could have been made worse, but reasonable and good dialogues happened between our respective officials and we have addressed that and minimized the potential tensions between our peoples,” he said.

President Aquino earlier said that he has yet to junk the idea of filing a case before the United Nations International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea to resolve the issue following several reported Chinese incursions in Recto Bank (Reed Bank), an area claimed by the Philippines and said to be not included in the disputed islands within West Philippine Sea.

China opposed the idea of bringing the dispute before the UN tribunal. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)


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