THE Philippines will not surrender a part of its territory in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) to China despite that country’s might, President Benigno Aquino 3rd said on Thursday, adding that he as President was never intimidated by the mainland’s awesome powers.
“Hindi pwedeng ang ‘laki niya, hindi ko pwedeng patulan ‘to.’ Obligasyon ko po bilang Pangulo na ‘yung ating teritoryo, ‘yung ating dapat isalin sa susunod na salinlahi ay nandiyan at tangan natin at kailangan ipaglaban ang karapatan maski na dehadong-dehado tayo sa labanang ito [We shouldn’t cower just because it’s big. It is my obligation to see to it that our territory, that, which should be turned over to the next generation, is there and we will have to fight for our rights even if the enemy is powerful],” Aquino said during a meeting with Liberal Party candidates and supporters in Caloocan City (Metro Manila) on Wednesday night.
The President made the remark in the face of China’s growing influence in the Spratlys in the South China Sea borne out of its unabated reclamation of isles and reefs being claimed by other countries.
“Paulit-ulit natin sinasabi hindi tayo naghahangad ng sobra sa dapat atin pero sana naman galangin naman ‘yung karapatan din natin tulad ng iba [We’ve said it time and again. We are not after what is not ours, so other countries should respect our rights],” he added.
While admitting that the Philippines is “no match” against the military strength of China, Aquino said he believes that the country will have the full backing of the international community, particularly the signatories to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).
Ironically, Beijing signed Unclos, the agreement that determines the maritime boundaries of every state.
The President said there is no need to engage China in an “arms race” because it will only be a futile exercise.
“Ginawa po natin ang nararapat. Pumunta tayo sa Asean para ipaalala na matagal na ang usapin na ‘to, na dapat umusad na ‘yung paggagawa ng Code of Conduct. Dinala natin ang usapan ayon sa batas na tinatawag na international law, dumulog tayo sa arbitration para malutas ang problemang ito [We did what was right. We reminded Asean that this problem has long been simmering and there should be a Code of Conduct. We brought the case to the international tribunal so that this problem will be resolved],” he explained.
Two years ago, the government filed a memorial with the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (Itlos) in The Hague, Netherlands.
The petition questioned the nine-dash line rule being imposed by China in asserting sovereignty over several shoals and reefs in the disputed body of water, including those that are well within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.