MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang is telling it to China in Chinese.
“Can I say to the Chinese, ‘Xiao xin yi dian’ (Be a little careful). Be a little careful about your statements,” Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a press conference on Wednesday.
Lacierda, who has Chinese blood and who can speak Mandarin, was being asked to react to a People's Daily commentary accusing the Philippines of deliberately stirring up tensions in the South China Sea after President Aquino said he may ask the United States to send spy planes to help monitor the disputed areas in the South China Sea.
“The transcripts, as Secretary Ricky [Carandang] said, would show the context by which the statement was made by the President. So there’s no issue to us. We do not view it as a provocative statement,” Lacierda said.
Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ricky Carandang on Tuesday had said that the surveillance flights would not be offensive in nature and that it would only be meant to help the Philippine government monitor its territory.
“Dang rang, of course,” Lacierda said, when asked to react to a statement made by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei urging parties to the issues to “do things conducive to regional peace and stability.”
“We have already explained ourselves. The DFA already issued a statement on that point. We see no reason why it should be viewed as a provocative statement on our part. And as the President said, by no stretch of the imagination can you consider the Philippines as an aggressor,” Lacierda added.
US spy plane
Carandang on Wednesday added that asking the United States to send its spy planes is something that may be seriously considered to help the Philippines monitor its sea lanes.
“We have taken a number of actions to try to enhance our ability to monitor our sea lanes. I am sure you have heard of Coast Watch. Coast Watch is a series of radars that we are putting up around our territory with assistance from countries like Australia and the United States. So you have to view these surveillance flights, if they happen, in a general effort to do that. If nobody feels Coast Watch is provocative, then this should not be viewed as provocative either,” Carandang said.
Carandang stressed that this should not be viewed by China as provocative since the Philippines is “merely exercising” its “sovereign right.”
“We are merely exercising our sovereign right to monitor and watch over our territory. Any sovereign territory will do that and I don’t think any other country will begrudge us for doing that. As I said [yesterday], this is not a provocative action. There is no aggressive intent here. But every country has a right to monitor its territory and to do whatever means it sees necessary,” Carandang said.
“In the context of what we are doing, I would think it would be something seriously considered,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Palace reiterated the country’s commitment to a diplomatic solution to the territorial dispute, with Lacierda saying that it advocates a multilateral approach “to a resolution on any matter on the South China Sea.”