MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Panfilo Lacson favors a bilateral approach in resolving territorial disputes with China.
The chairman of the Senate Committee on Defense said he has talked informally with China’s ambassador to the Philippines Ma Keqing, who is in favor of his suggestion.
“I was the one who advanced the idea na baka pwedeng makuha ito sa bilateral and she was very interested because according to her, that’s exactly what China wants – have a one-on-one talk between our country and China and talk about it like 2 countries, neighbors instead of involving other countries because it’s going to complicate matters instead of helping out?”
He added: “Why depend on other countries especially the US? Because after all, the US has its own national interest to protect and to advance.”
Supports joint exploration
Lacson also favors the joint exploration of contested territories, citing the Philippines’ lack of resources.
China and the Philippines have been in a stand-off over disputed territory within the South China Sea since April, when Chinese government ships prevented the Philippine Navy from arresting Chinese fishermen at the Scarborough Shoal.
The Philippines withdrew its ships from the shoal in June in an effort to reduce tensions. However China has not followed suit, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Chinese-Philippine tensions have increased due to the standoff, with the Philippines accusing China of "duplicity" and "intimidation" at a recent regional forum in Cambodia.
China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, even waters close to the coasts of neighbouring countries. The Philippines says the Scarborough Shoal is well within its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone. -- With Agence France-Presse