MANILA, Philippines – President Aquino on Monday directly addressed the issue of the territorial row over Scarborough Shoal, saying the Philippines cannot give up its rightful territory to China.
In his 3rd State of the Nation Address, Aquino said the Philippines has shown prudence in dealing with the Chinese government with regard to the territorial row.
He said he ordered the pullout of the country’s biggest warship from the shoal, also known as Bajo de Masinloc, while refusing to engage Beijing in a media war.
“There are people who say that we should just let go of Bajo de Masinloc, that we should just avoid it. But if someone goes into your backyard and says he owns the land he is standing on, will you agree? It is not right to give to others what is rightfully ours,” he said.
In his speech, Aquino urged China to reciprocate the respect shown by the Philippines to Beijing’s territorial claim. He said the sea dispute and its solution will not be simple, and urged the Filipino people to unite with the government over the issue.
“Iisa lang po dapat ang kumpas natin. Tulungan ninyo akong iparinig sa kabilang panig ang katuwiran ng ating mga paninindigan,”he said.
He said the government is consulting various experts, allies and leaders to find an amicable solution for all.
The dispute between Manila and Beijing has intensified since April after a face-off began over the Scarborough Shoal, a rocky outcrop in the South China Sea.
China claims sovereignty over nearly all of the sea, which is believed to hold vast amounts of oil and gas, and is home to vital shipping lanes and one of the region's most important fishing grounds.
But other countries in the region, including the Philippines, have overlapping claims in the area. With Agence France-Presse