Clinton backs PH moves in sea dispute with China

Bev Llorente, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 24 2016 03:44 AM | Updated as of Feb 24 2016 09:17 AM

Philippines right to bring China to court, US Presidential candidate says

The Philippines took a step in the right direction when it filed a case against China in the international arbitral tribunal in connection with the two countries' maritime dispute, former U.S. Secretary of State and Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tells ABS-CBN News.

The Philippines took a step in the right direction when it filed a case against China in the international arbitral tribunal in connection with the two countries' maritime dispute, US Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton told ABS-CBN News' North America bureau.

In an exclusive interview, the former U.S. secretary of state, expressed support for Manila in its dispute with Beijing over the West Philippine Sea.

"I have been very strongly in support with the Philippines in this dispute and I am proud of the Philippines for taking their dispute to the international court," Clinton said. "I thought that was a very wise decision, because there should not be a seizure of any territory until there's some kind of resolution that is legal."

"I have supported the Filipino government in taking the action that they have in the courts and I have visited the Philippines when I was secretary of state to show my support for them to be able to protect their coastline and their possessions the territories that the Philippines claim," Clinton said. "I am going to continue to support the Philippines because you are a close friend of the United States."

"You are a treaty ally. We have a mutual defense pact. The Philippines are helping themselves but they are also asking help from the United States, which I'm very pleased we are giving to you. So you can count on me to protect the interest in the South China Sea because it's important that these disputes be handled in a diplomatic and legal matter not by force or seizure."

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario earlier said that under the Philippine-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty, the United States is under obligation to defend the Philippines if its forces are attacked in the West Philippine Sea. 

"If we are attacked in the West Philippine Sea that would be included under the scope of the Mutual Defense Treaty and that’s covered by a diplomatic note," Del Rosario revealed on ANC's "Headstart."

WATCH: What the PH-US Mutual Defense Treaty says

IMMIGRATION REFORM

After securing her victory in Nevada, Clinton's next stop is the Democratic South Carolina primary next week.

In her interview, Clinton also stressed the need for a comprehensive immigration reform in the United States.

Among U.S. immigrants, Filipinos have to wait the longest to send for their families. This long wait time for family-based petitions could finally be shortened, if Clinton gets elected.

"You know, I've been an advocate for Filipino-Americans for a long time. I was one of the senators who worked hard to make sure that Filipino war veterans got the benefits that they had earned and had not yet been delivered to them. I want to take a hard look at how we can expedite family re-unification; that should be our highest priority. We need comprehensive immigration reform to take care of the people here, and as part of that we need to be expediting family re-unification for people who have been waiting in line in order to try to get rid of that backlog," Clinton said.