MANILA - Malacanang will continue to cling on to diplomacy and international support in dealing with China.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said, “I think we should realize the power of diplomacy, the power of the international support… That’s the reason why we have, shall we say, religiously resorted to the diplomatic process because this is one way of, number one, avoiding violence; number two, showing the strength of our cause; and number three, to show that the community of nations believe in a rules-based approach to any conflict. So those are the means by which we are exercising our voice as a sovereign nation.”
The Philippines has already filed a diplomatic protest over China’s recent actions in Ayungin Shoal. China admitted to driving out Filipino vessels nearing the shoal, thinking they carried construction materials.
Lacierda conceded the Philippines has already filed several diplomatic measures, but to no avail.
“I think that’s the standard diplomatic protocol when an incident such as what happened the other day occurred… However, this emphasizes the importance of the arbitration proceedings before the [International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea] where we really need to come up with a ruling [already].”
Lacierda further maintained the Philippines wants to avoid a confrontation. He said the country continues to adhering to an existing policy, which is to de-escalate tensions at the West Philippine Sea.
“Since we have resorted to the diplomatic processes, the arbitration proceeding is one such avenue where we can settle the questioned nine-dash line of the Chinese government… It’s a process that we will continue to exercise. It’s putting on record our protest and putting on record their offense as we see it, as the Philippine government sees it. And so, again, this emphasizes the need for a rules-based approach to the situation in [West Philippine Sea].”
Malacanang maintains Ayugin shoal is within Philippine territory and that Filipino vessels are free to travel there.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said the vessels went to Ayungin Shoal to provide supplies for the soldiers.
“We would have to ask the Armed Forces of the Philippines as to how it intends to supply [the needs of] our soldiers in Ayungin Shoal. We will ask the AFP,” Lacierda said.