Philippines’ position on South China Sea issue gaining support, says Palace official

AUGUST 7 — The Philippines is pleased that its position in the South China Sea issue is already gaining support from members of the international community with stakes in the maritime dispute, a Palace official said on Thursday.

Countries calling on China to stop its reclamation work in the South China Sea are beginning to understand the current realities and they are responding in the most appropriate manner, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said.

“Kung dati nga ay hindi nagpapahayag ng ganyang posisyon ang karamihan, kapansin-pansin na sa ngayon ay nagkaroon na ng pangkalahatang pagtanggap sa realidad na noon pa natin ipinapahayag,” he said during a press briefing in Malacañang.

“At ito ay magandang follow-up doon din sa naging statement at the end of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Summit in Kuala Lumpur last April, in which the member nations of the ASEAN already called attention sa mga nagaganap sa South China Sea at pinunto na noon na dapat ay pairalin ang Declaration on the Conduct of Parties.”

The Philippines, he said, must continue sending this message to the members of the international community for them to grasp these realities and prevent powerful countries from coercing smaller ones.

Asked how the Philippines could call on the international community to react to China’s activities, Secretary Coloma said he believes recent calls for China to halt reclamation work in the disputed territory will gain considerable momentum.

For instance, apart from ASEAN members, the United States, the G7 countries as well as the European community are also asking China to stop, he said.

He further said that the world has economic interdependence and the ASEAN, being an economic group, is vital to international trade and commerce.

Strong economic relations among countries could not exist if there is no freedom of navigation and if regional peace and stability are compromised because of China’s aggressive behavior, he explained.

“Kaya sa ating palagay ay mapaparating naman ang mensaheng ito sa kinauukulan at mapapatunayan natin ang kapangyarihan ng prinsipyo na ‘right is might’ sa halip na ‘might is right’,” he said.

Members of the ASEAN participating in the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Kuala Lumpur have called on China to halt its reclamation activities in the South China Sea.

The Philippines has filed a case in the international arbitration tribunal, hoping to stop China’s intrusion in its territory. PND (as)