Solons: Resolve Scarborough Shoal dispute through diplomacy

LAWMAKERS believed that the territorial standoff between the Philippines and China can be resolved through diplomatic means and before international judicial bodies.

House Deputy Speaker Maria Isabelle Climaco said the Philippines should take the diplomatic track and talk to China at all fronts. — political, economic military and even the general public.

“Our basis is the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) could be a strong lobby group, it is a big market,” said Climaco, representative of the first district of Zamboanga City.

She further said while the government can increase the military budget for territorial defense, the Department of National Defense should rationalize the allocation of funds for modernization.

“We have internal and external security concerns. The government can increase
the DND budget but rationalize the allocation not only for the Philippine Navy. In my district, the Army has to maintain security and needs allocation for POL or petroleum, oil and lubricants for patrol,” said Climaco.

Rep. Neri Colmenares (Partylist, Bayan Muna) said the Scarborough Shoal belongs to the Philippines and the country can turn to authoritative international bodies and use diplomatic means to reaffirm its sovereignty over the territory.

“The territory is ours, and we must assert our rights to the false claims of China. The solution is bringing the case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) or the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) coupled with very proactive diplomacy to convince the international community of our rightful claim,” said

He said increasing military budget will not solve anything and will only make the funding susceptible to being abused by corrupt armed forces officials. “China is so far ahead of the AFP which cannot even destroy the Abu Sayyaf or catch Palparan. Militarist solution is the martial law vintage philosophy which won’t work. The AFP in fact has to account for the modernization fund.”

China is conditionally open to discuss with ASEAN members the framing of a Code of Conduct in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) according to Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in a statement dated July 13 posted on the website of the Chinese Embassy in Makati City, Yang stressed talks on the COC should be made “on the basis of full compliance with the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) by all parties.” The DOC was signed in 2002 by China and ASEAN members during the ASEAN ministerial meeting in Phnom Penh,

The Philippines and China have been in a standoff since April when Chinese ships stopped the Philippine Navy from arresting Chinese fishermen at the disputed Scarborough Shoal. The Philippines maintains the Scarborough Shoal is well within its exclusive economic zone but China claims it along with most of the South China Sea. The sea is believed to be potentially rich with oil and gas deposits.

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