MANILA - The Philippines should ask China to clarify the extent of its new law that seeks to increase its military security in territorial waters.
In an interview with ANC, international studies expert Prof. Rommel Banlaoi said, “the Philippine government can express its sentiment or file a diplomatic protest to clarify what is the meaning of the law.”
He said there is no cause for alarm as of now since the law may refer to China's existing policies in calibrating military action within its territory.
“We have to understand that all countries are entitled to pass any law that aims to protect its own national interest because that’s the sovereign prerogative of any country,” he said.
The issue takes a different turn if the law already refers to contested waters, he said.
"If China does not make its domestic law consistent with international law, we have to tell China that," he said.
He said the country should not back down now from its mode of questioning China's assertions in disputed waters.
“If China implements that in our [exclusive economic zone], then we have a problem with China. That is why we are asking the international community to clarify our maritime rights in the area and to clarify the maritime rights of China. If we will use force in settling the disputes, that will run counter to the norms in international community,” Banlaoi added.
He said the government should, in the meantime, ask Filipino fishermen to avoid unnecessary incidents in traditional fishing areas.
Asked if this is fair, he said: “That’s the reality of international politics. Our enforcement capability is limited… That’s why we are not using paramilitary force… We want the rule of law to prevail rather than rule of force."
He believes China, for now, will not use its military assets in provoking its neighbors.
"If you observe, so far, it's just sending civilian vessels. Because any use of military forces will be viewed as provocative and irresponsible," he added.