MANILA, Philippines – Senator Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV said China’s reported plans to implement a policy that involves boarding and searching foreign ships that illegally enter what it considers its territory in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) will escalate the tensions between China and Philippines.
“’Yang mga ganyang galaw ng China would definitely escalate the tensions again,” Trillanes told dzMM’s “Magandang Morning” on Saturday.
However, Trillanes, who served as the country’s backdoor negotiator with China on the Scarborough Shoal dispute, noted that the government has yet to confirm if the planned action is an official state policy.
“Pero sa ngayon, ang ating gobyerno ay kino-confirm sa Chinese government kung ito ay talagang kanilang policy. Kasi ang qinoute dito ay isang provincial ordinance,” Trillanes said.
“Kailangan muna natin ma-clarify ‘yan definitively at gawin nating basehan to come up with the right response,” he added.
Trillanes believes that despite the possible tension that may arise from the new policy, China will not turn to violence.
“I am confident at this point in time, walang mananalo sa ganyang mangyayari. It will be damaging not only to us but to China as well, nagne-negotiate sila with all the countries tapos ganyan magiging reputation, the other countries may gang up on them kung agresibo sila,” he said.
He also said that based on his experience dealing with Chinese officials, they are still open to resolving the dispute in a peaceful and diplomatic manner.
“Based on my experience talking to them, hindi sarado. Kaya para sa atin, hindi ikabubuti na makipaghamunan sa media kasi kapag medyo nakapagbitaw na ng maiinit na salita, minsan nagiging complicated ‘yung situation. Pero kung mihanahon ‘yung usapan, kahit na ano ang ating demands ay baka mag-react naman like what they did before,” he said.
Trillanes also advised Philippine officials to avoid making “provocative statements to media” and instead reach out to the President directly if they have possible solutions to the territorial dispute.
Trillanes revealed in September that he was involved in backchannel discussions with Chinese officials to help ease tensions at the West Philippine Sea.
But although Trillanes had the approval of the President, the informal talks were deemed unofficial, which resulted to a quarrel with Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.
Trillanes said he is still open to taking on another China “mission” with the recent tensions over the new Chinese passports and China’s reported ship patrol plans, but noted that assigning someone “less controversial” is more ideal.
“Palagay ko at this point in time, marami namang mas komportable diyan or less controversial personalities kasi kung tayo na naman baka…marami kasing selos dito sa ating pulitika eh, hindi nalang isipin ‘yung kapakanan ng ating bansa eh. Pero kung bibigyan tayo ng misyon, gagampanan naman po natin ‘yan,” he said.