Palace: China missed the point in Vietnam games

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 10 2014 07:39 PM | Updated as of Jun 11 2014 07:05 AM

Vietnamese naval servicemen and Filipino naval servicemen play volleyball on Sunday during a friendly match on Vietnam-held Song Tu Tay or Southwest Cay island of the disputed Spratly Islands. Photo: Reuters/Stringer

Palace rebuffs China over 'clumsy farce' remarks

MANILA (UPDATED) - For Malacanang, China seems to have missed the point in the friendly sports games between Philippine and Vietnamese soldiers over the weekend.

Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma made the following reaction to China's comments that sports events are a "clumsy farce."

“Para sa atin po ang mahalaga ay ‘yung patuloy na pagpapahusay ng ating pakikipag-ugnayan sa ating mga kalapit-bansa, kabilang na rin ang Vietnam," he said. "Iyon naman pong isinagawa natin ay bilang isang kongkretong pagpapakita na maaari namang magsama at maging magkaibigan ang mga kinatawan ng mga bansang mayroong isinusulong na kanya-kanyang mga usapin or claims to the maritime entitlements in the South China Sea or West Philippine Sea."

He said the sports games between the Philippines and Vietnam show that if the two countries may have competing maritime claims, "they are able to demonstrate that the pursuit of peaceful settlement of these disputes will not stand in the way of their friendship and the people-to-people friendship that continues to flourish in spite of the differences."

However, Coloma also reiterated the Aquino administration’s position that despite differences over the West Philippine Sea, China and the Philippines are still friends.

The 2 countries have just marked 13 years of friendship.

"Para sa atin naman po, patuloy pa rin ‘yung ating pananalig na itong mga usaping ito do not constitute the totality of Philippine-China relations at nais pa rin nating mapanatili ‘yung pangkalahatang kooperasyon at pakikipag-kaibigan ng ating bansa sa kanilang bansa. ‘Yung ating pakikipag-ugnayan sa ibang larangan, katulad ng komersyo at kalakal, at ‘yung pagpapalawig ng mga people-to-people programs na magpapatibay pa ng pakikipagkaibigan ng mga Pilipino at ng mga mamamayan ng People’s Republic of China," Coloma said.

Coloma said more countries are backing the Philippine approach to resolving disputes in the West Philippine Sea. The Philippines has filed an arbitration case against China, something that Beijing has snubbed.

"Nakikita rin naman natin na maraming mga bansa na kinikilala, ‘yung nasa katwiran, ‘yung ating paghahanap ng mapayapang solusyon dito," he said. "Nakakuha na tayo ng endorsement o suporta mula sa iba’t ibang bansa katulad ng Australia, Germany, Canada at iba pa na nagpahayag na ng kanilang opinyon hinggil dito. At umaasa tayo na ‘yun pang ibang mga bansa na lumagda rin o kasama rin doon sa United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea ay magpapahayag din ng ganoong pananaw para maipabatid naman na sa kabuuan mas matimbang ang posisyon ng mga bansang naghahangad ng kapayapaan.”

Coloma said the situation is not simple. "Doon sa dynamics ng international relations, sa araw-araw na daloy ng mga pangyayari, maaaring may mga specific na pahayag o mga aksyon. Iba’t iba kasi ‘yan,merong opisyal; may hindi opisyal; merong galing sa mga kagawad ng mass media; merong galing sa pamahalaan."

"Pero ang tinitingnan pa rin natin ‘yung kabuuan na hindi tayo maaaring matinag doon sa ating determinasyon na makuha iyung mapayapang solusyon na ating tinatahak na landas dito. Kaya magiging mapagmasid tayo. We will remain vigilant in protecting our sovereign rights but maintaining equanimity in the face of all of these actions,” he said.

Earlier in the day, another Palace official rebuffed China for its snide remarks about Philippines' friendly sports events with Vietnam.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said: "We wish to gladly inform China that we just celebrated yesterday the 13th Filipino-Chinese Friendship Day and perhaps, instead of condemning the friendly games between the Philippines and Vietnam, China should focus on engaging the Philippines in friendly initiatives.