DFA: No stopping PH from bringing up sea row

Christian Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 13 2015 06:02 PM | Updated as of Nov 21 2015 12:57 PM

Philippine Navy patrol boats take position in front of the Mall of Asia. Reuters

MANILA - The Philippines has vowed to extend a warm welcome to fellow members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), including China, whose leader is set to attend the summit here in Manila next week.

But there's no stopping this year's APEC host country from continuing to call out Beijing over its aggressive behavior in the South China Sea.

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and APEC spokesperson Charles Jose acknowledged that China's actions in the disputed territories could be counter productive to the goals of APEC, which promotes free and open trade.

Jose noted that "40 to 60 percent of the global trade pass through the South China Sea."

"In our view, what is happening now in the South China Sea, is causing instability and undermining peace and stability, which could have an impact on the development, economic development, and economic prosperity of the countries in the region," he said in a press conference.

The Philippines has taken China to court to help resolve the territorial dispute.

China repeats will not accept South China Sea arbitration case

The Philippines earlier scored a preliminary victory when the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled it had jurisdiction over its case against China.

Jose acknowledged that APEC was not the proper venue to tackle the dispute with China.

But he said "(we) cannot stop leaders from raising issues vital interest to them," including the territorial dispute.

"Although we recognize APEC is an economic forum and it is not on the agenda, the South China Sea issue is very important," he said, "so the Philippines will continue to express its view on these issues if and where appropriate."

Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to attend the APEC economic leaders' meeting from Nov. 18 to 19.