Businessman Mel Velardo looks at the reproduction of the 1734 Murillo map he now owns. Photo by Yvonne Chua
MANILA - Malacañang said that the submission of a 300-year-old map to the international tribunal will boost the case of the Philippines in questioning China’s territorial claim over the South China Sea.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the Philippines has “a strong case.”
“Let me just emphasize the fact that China never participated, in fact, refused to participate in the arbitration in the [International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea]. However, China's claim is about historical title. This old map would certainly present the side of the Philippines when it comes to any historical basis,” Lacierda said.
Despite the maritime row, however, the Palace is looking forward to better relations with China.
He emphasized that the country only differs with how the Chinese leadership is dealing with the issue, but has no quarrel with the Chinese people.
“Just to be clear, we have no conflict with the Chinese people. Our conflict, for instance, our differences are with the approach of the leadership in dealing with the South China Sea. But on the whole, with respect to the Chinese people, we continue to establish good relations with them. And we certainly look forward to a better relations with China,” Lacierda said.
President Aquino is attending on Monday night the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industry, Inc.’s commemoration of the Friendship Day, as well the anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, and the country’s 117th Independence Day.
Lacierda said the event is an apt reminder of “the friendship between the Filipino and Chinese” and “the long history of relations that we have with them.”
He added that as someone who has Chinese ancestry, Aquino can relate easily with Chinese-Filipinos.
“A number of our Filipinos here also have traced themselves to China and I could very well say that I am one of them. And, certainly, I would encourage this… to continue to enhance a warm relationship between China and the Philippines,” he said.
He added the country’s relations with China should not be viewed solely on the basis of the maritime row.
Lacierda cited the country’s “multi-level relationship with China” including people-to-people exchanges, trade and, culture.