MANILA - The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) called on the international community for a "united voice" to stop China from pursuing the "might is right" strategy in the territorial dispute over the West Philippine Sea.
AFP spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla made the appeal after the New York Times, quoting think-tanks, detailed Chinese construction projects on several reefs in the disputed region.
"This increasing concern made by various think tank groups and the issues they presented are those which the Philippines has been raising all along," he said.
In June, China claimed that it was nearing the completion of the reclamation projects on the disputed waters and that it was preparing to put up facilities there.
The AFP cannot say if the Chinese have finished the reclamation.
"It only goes to show that what we have been saying is shared by many, and that all nations ought to speak out so that, hopefully with that one voice, China will listen and not use might versus what is right, as well as go by a rules-based approach that all peace-loving nations conform to," said Padilla.
Padilla said some countries, including those in Southeast Asia, are hesitant to speak out because of economic and other interests. He said only Philippines and Vietnam have spoken out against China's assertiveness.
"If they wish to resolve this (dispute) in this part of the region, a collective voice is much more stronger than a few… ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) should have a solid voice," the official said.
Padilla said other countries need not fear economic backlash if they speak up against China, noting that China also needs other countries as trade partners to prosper.
Told that US, the G7 (US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan) and European Union have already spoken against China, Padilla said: "Correct but ASEAN not yet. That is the challenge. We (in ASEAN) should have a one solid voice."