MANILA - The Philippines is gaining traction in its efforts to resolve the West Philippine Sea dispute diplomatically, a Palace official said Monday.
For Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma, proof of this is China’s recent public statements against the Philippine arbitration case on the disputed waters.
Coloma was asked if the government will also launch its own offensive to rebut Beijing's claim that Manila's arbitration case has deceiving arguments.
“Hindi naman siguro kailangang maglunsad niyan sapagkat nakikita naman natin na mayroong mataas na antas ng pagiging interesado ang mga major mass media organizations at sila mismo ang nagsisikap na malaman ang posisyon ng Pilipinas," he said.
"Nakita natin nitong mga nakaraang linggo ‘yung sunud-sunod na pakikipagpanayam ng iba’t ibang international media organizations sa ating Pangulo at nilalathala nila sa kanilang mga channels ang pananaw ng ating bansa. Ipinapakita lamang nito na nagkakaroon ng traction ang ating katwiran hinggil sa pagpapairal ng international rule of law, at dahil dito, pinapansin ito ng pandaigdigang komunidad, hindi lamang ng mga kagawad ng mass media," he added.
In a report at the 24th meeting of state parties of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Deputy Permanent Representative Wang Min said the Philippines' accusations against China are "false."
Last week, Beijing said UNCLOS doesn't cover the Philippine arbitration case and because of this, China will not engage the case.
Coloma doesn't think much of the Chinese government's statements.
“It is part of the dynamics of international relations to conduct information campaigns or to propagate a national policy by utilizing the mass media as a channel of communication. So we are not unduly perturbed by this action,” he said.
Coloma, meantime, backed Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario’s proposal to initiate a dialogue with China and other claimants in the South China Sea to propose a moratorium on all construction and other activities that cause tension in the area.
“The Secretary of Foreign Affairs is the President’s alter-ego in his sphere of action and the Philippines has always been advocating the peaceful settlement of disputes. So dialogues among parties that have conflicting claims on maritime entitlements in the West Philippine Sea or the South China Sea will be well-advised to consider dialogues as a worthy channel for expressing their views and for gaining a better of each other’s position," he said.
"Iyan naman po talaga ang ating tinataguyod na magkaroon ng mapayapang kalutasan ang mga usapin patungkol sa South China Sea or West Philippine Sea. Matagal na rin tayong nagsasabi na dapat nang balangkasin o himayin ang Code of Conduct of Parties involved in claims on the South China Sea maritime entitlements. Kaya tiyak na makakatulong ‘yang hakbang na ‘yan kung sasang-ayon ‘yung mga bansang naturingan,” he added.
Coloma believes Del Rosario’s proposal is meant to push the Code of Conduct of Parties (COC) in the South China Sea. The finalization of COC has been the subject of long discussions.
“Palagay ko ito namang panukala ni Secretary del Rosario ay para mas maging specific ‘yung mga usapan o pag-uusap at para maging hakbang ito doon sa pagbubuo ng tinatawag na Code of Conduct. Dahil nga matagal ng napag-usapan, noon pang year 2002 ‘yung Declaration of the Code of Conduct at noon lamang 2012 naulit ‘yung resolution na dapat nang balangkasin, dapat nang bigyan ng sustansiya itong Code of Conduct na ito kaya makakatulong itong dialogue na pinanukala ni Secretary del Rosario.”