ASEAN meet a 'golden opportunity' to discuss sea disputes: Golez

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 18 2017 10:22 AM | Updated as of Apr 18 2017 10:31 AM

NO COMPROMISE: A former national security adviser believes the upcoming ASEAN meeting in Bohol is a golden opportunity for the Philippines to take a stronger stand on the South China Sea territorial disputes.

In an interview with ANC, former national security adviser Roilo Golez said a recent survey shows that 84% of Filipinos want the government to make a particularly stronger stand on the Hague ruling which the Philippines won over China.

"To me, one way of showing this... The first global opportunity to show this is in the ASEAN meeting. This is a golden opportunity and we should take advantage of it," said Golez.

According to Golez, this year's ASEAN chairmanship of the Philippines would be a chance for the country to steer discussions towards making an agreement on the framework on the code of conduct.

He stressed that it would be embarrassing if another country would put the discussions on the South China Sea disputes on the table instead of the Philippines.

Golez said the Philippines can still pursue economic engagements with Beijing without sacrificing the country's stand on its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

"Territory is something that cannot be compromised," he said.

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A Chinese J-11 fighter jet is pictured on the airstrip at Woody Island in the South China Sea in this March 29, 2017 handout satellite photo. CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/DigitalGlobe/Handout via Reuters

Golez said the Philippines should study the way Vietnam dealt with China, given the conflict between the two countries throughout the years.

"They've had some running battles, wars, skirmishes. But at the same time Vietnam has handled China diplomatically... They've exchanged visits at the highest levels," he said.

The former national security adviser pinpointed an incident in 2014, when Vietnam held its ground as China tried to deploy an oil rig to the former's EEZ.

Vietnam, he recalled, sent fishing boats to meet China's ships and vessels from the two countries battled in the disputed seas.

"After two months of that kind of encounter, watched by the entire world, China backed out," Golez said. "That is something that we can study, how they do it."

Another thing the Philippines can learn from Vietnam, said Golez, is how they handle the official development assistance (ODA) funds from various countries.

He said Vietnam was able to build a lot of modern infrastructure and boost their defensive capabilities with their ODA.

"We must use the example of Vietnam that was able to balance geopolitical, economic defense, and security interests to have what they have now," he said.