MALACANANG on Friday expressed elation over unusual support being given by leaders of the Philippine Left to the government in pursuit of its claims over disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
In an interview with Radyo 5, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the government welcomes the active campaign by militant groups in support of moves to assert the country’s sovereignty against China.
“Patriotic groups who are usually on the opposing side in many issues are with us on the same side because what is at stake here is our sovereignty and pride as a nation,” he added.
Former senator Orlando Mercado, the radio program anchor, informed Coloma that even Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison has declared his support for the Philippines’ position on the maritime dispute.
Sison has been in exile in The Netherlands where the Permanent Court of Arbitration is based. Top government officials from all three branches of government are now in The Hague to advance the country’s claims before the UN-sanctioned arbitral tribunal.
According to Malacanang deputy spokesman Abigail Valte, who is also in The Hague, the Arbitral Tribunal will be convening on Friday to deliberate on presentations made by the Philippines.
“In the past two days, the Philippines presented its arguments to prove that the tribunal has jurisdiction over the matter and that there is no bar to the exercise of its jurisdiction,” she said.
“The Philippines will await word if it will be propounded additional questions by members of the tribunal and if a Second Round of Arguments on Hearing and Admissibility will be required. If so, then it will be held on July 13, 2015,” Valte added.
The Manila Times sought a reaction from Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. to Coloma’s statements, to which he admitted that there is “some kind of agreement” with regard to the government’s position.
“While there is some kind of agreement with regard to upholding the Unclos (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) against China’s absurd 9-dash line claim, there remains a huge difference with regard to US intervention and dependence on US exercises and bases to supposedly modernize our AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines],” Reyes explained.
“It is the Aquino government’s unqualified support of and dependence on the US which undermine our assertion of sovereignty against China,” he said.
Meanwhile, Coloma said the multi-branch “whole government approach” in attending to the international tribunal’s proceedings is proof of how important the issue is to the country.
Besides the formal hearings, he added, there are also discussions on the sidelines where issues are more expounded.
“The issue on jurisdiction is not only limited to territory or specific land features. The issue there is the concept of maritime entitlements.. Unfortunately, the massive reclamation [by China]has a huge effect on our coral reefs,” Coloma said.