President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Friday called for mutual respect among nations and respect for international law.
The President made the call in his speech during the traditional Independence Day vin d’honneur (official reception) held at the Casa Real del Iloilo.
“Join us, in this way, we can truly forge a global community in which each nation-state realizes that stability is hinged on their ability to work with others,” he said.
“This is the clearest path toward a world where there is mutual respect and we are all bound by international law,” Aquino added.
The reception was attended by diplomats and heads of foreign missions to the Philippines, including Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua.
The President shook hands with Zhao during the reception.
Zhao had reportedly snubbed the President during the supposed celebration of the Philippine-China Friendship Day early this week that was held a few days after the President arrived from a state visit to Japan.
Beijing was smarting from the President’s remark in Tokyo where he compared China’s expansionist moves in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) to what Nazi Germany did in Europe during the Second World War.
The tension reportedly prompted the local Chinese business community, which organized the event, to recast the theme of the celebration from Philippine-China Friendship Day to an advanced Independence Day celebration.
Manila and Beijing have been locked in a territorial dispute over areas in the West Philippine Sea, which China claims belongs to them by virtue of it’s 9-dash line concept. Manila, meanwhile, has invoked the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) in asserting its right to its exclusive economic zone.
It has brought the issue for arbitration to the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (Itlos).
China refuses to recognize the UN tribunal’s jurisdiction on the case and insisted that the matter should be resolved bilaterally.
The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs said the matter was brought to the Itlos after at least 50 attempts to resolve the issue in bilateral talks ended in failure.
In the same Independence Day speech, Aquino emphasized the need for “greater cooperation” against “global” threats, including pandemics, terrorism and climate change.
“Any practical mind would recognize that we must be concerned with our brother by necessity, especially in this shrinking world, where problems are less and less localized, and more and more common,” he said.
The President also alluded to how countries dealt with the humanitarian issue caused by the Rohingya boat people, or the thousands of Burmese and Bangladeshi Rohingya refugees who were stuck in the high seas.
“There is also the issue of displacement, in which violence or chaos in one part of the world induces the migration of families who are forced to seek refuge on other shores and with other governments,” Aquino said.
The President cited the Philippines’ role in helping solve conflicts abroad by sending Filipino peacekeepers to war-torn areas.
“Instability, conflict and chaos in other parts of the world will eventually make their effects felt on our shores. Doing nothing about the problem will force us one day to confront it when it is far more complex and unmanageable, and can no longer be ignored,” he said.
Police in Iloilo and Cavite arrested several persons for allegedly trying to disrupt the Independence Day celebrations.
In Iloilo, at least five were arrested after they allegedly tried to ram a police line that was put up to secure the venue of the Independence Day celebration where the President was the principal guest.
The protesters, who police identified as belonging to Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, clashed with the lawmen.
A television news footage showed, however, that they were eventually allowed to hold a program and voluntarily left afterward.
At the Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite, guest of honor Camarines Sur Rep. Maria Leonor Robredo was delivering her speech when she was disrupted with chants of Huwad na kalayaan (fake independence) from activists who mingled with the crowd.
The activists then tried to break into the security cordon, prompting the police to move in and arrest them. At least 15 protesters were taken to the police station.
Supt. Joseph Javier, deputy chief of police of Kawit, said the rally did not have a permit.
“This is not a Freedom Park, we are fulfilling our duty to ensure peace and order in this area,” he told the protesters.
WITH ROGELIO LIMPIN