A YEAR after the Philippines gained victory over China in a legal territorial battle, former Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) secretary Albert Del Rosario perceives that the country is at a disadvantage over what Malacanang Palace claim as “positive neighborly relations” between the two nations.
To mark the first anniversary after the Permanent Court of Arbitration issued a ruling on the Philippines’ case against China on the so-called nine-dash line claim in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), Malacañang tagged the the country as a “regional peacemaker” for having a “positive neighborly relations” with China.
“Despite its friendlier face, we do not see restraint in China’s militarization and unlawful activity in the West Philippine Sea, said Del Rosario in forum organized by the Stratbase-Institute on Wednesday, July 12.
Recently, Washington-based CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative released satellite imagery revealing China’s new missile shelters, radar and communication facilities on Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi Reef.
In an interview of Philstar with Gregory Poling, director of the AMTI over the issue, he said, that “this suggests that Beijing wants to keep Manila and the other Southeast Asian governments talking, diverting international pressure, while it finishes its power projection capabilities without interference.”
Amidst the issue, Del Rosario said that it would be best if the Philippines would reclaim its leadership over China following the victory gained a year before .
“Today, on the anniversary of the ruling, we should be proud of our country’s leadership on this issue. It was a leadership that began from a lonely place but, because we stood for what is right, we also gained the respect of the responsible community of nations,” Del Rosario said.
“I believe that we should reassume our leadership,” he stressed.
Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte claimed that China President Xi Xinping would wage war with the Philippines if it attempted to drill oil from the contested the resource-rich West Philippine Sea.
“We cannot allow others to play with the threat of war when our submitted disputes have already been clarified in the ruling,” Del Rosario said.
“Despite an effort in this country to encourage sobriety and restraint, I am concerned that we will reap no more than a friendly face,” he added.
The former foreign affairs chief suggested that the administration to “exhaust all diplomatic avenues that are available to us in promoting the ruling and the rule of international law.”
In a televised media briefing on Wednesday, presidential spokesperson Ernerto Abella affirmed the developments between the two countries.
“Philippines and China have reviewed experience on the West Philippine Sea issue, exchanged views and current issues of concern to either side and they have agreed that they will further discuss mutually acceptable approaches,” Abella said in televised press briefing.
“It’s excellent that we are now in dialogue with the other country,” he added.
Last May, the representatives from the Philippines and China conducted its inaugural meeting of their bilateral consultation mechanism to resolve the maritime dispute.
“The Duterte administration reaffirms its unwavering commitment to protect our country’s territorial claims and maritime entitlements, but believes that the ongoing territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea should further be resolved in a manner consistent with the spirit of good neighborly relations,” the DFA said in a statement released Wednesday.
Abella claimed that the two countries have agreed to meet again in the second half of 2017.