Tuesday, May 01, 2012

DND: Ignore Chinese war-mongering

The Department of National Defense (DND) has opted to ignore the war-mongering comments of a Chinese military general who called for “decisive action” by China against the Philippines in the dispute over the Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal).

Without addressing Major General Luo Yuan of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China, DND spokesperson Peter Galvez said people should be “more circumspect” in their comments on the issue, stressing that the Philippines wanted a peaceful resolution to the dispute.

“We cannot make an official statement based on opinions, especially commentaries,” Galvez told reporters on Monday.

“It would really be hard to comment. That is his opinion. We respect his (opinion) but as for the department, it would not be proper for us to make statements,” he added.

In a commentary posted on Friday on China.org.cn, Luo said China should come up with “decisive action” against the Philippines to assert China’s claim over Panatag Shoal.

Galvez said the general’s comments did not necessarily reflect that of the PLA.

“Let’s not forget about all the other people… there are more peace-loving people,” he said.

“We have to  be more circumspect. There are a lot of people definitely who understand the value of discussion, of open communication in resolving issues,” Galvez said.

“We can all have our opinions but we in the department maintain (our) peaceful initiatives. No one wants anything other than resolving this issue peacefully,” he said.

The Philippines has formally asked China to bring their dispute to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), which is based in Hamburg, Germany.

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said “this approach would resolve on a long-term basis any differences of position on the issue and ensure a peaceful, stable and lasting bilateral relationship between the Philippines and China.”

Appropriate party

The DFA strongly believes Itlos is the “appropriate third party adjudication body under international law, specifically the Unclos  (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), with respect to the rights and obligations of the two countries in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.”

But this was rejected by China.

On Sunday, the Chinese foreign ministry said that Beijing had turned down Manila’s call for an international mediation to resolve the maritime dispute.

Deng Zhonghua, head of the ministry’s boundary and ocean affairs office, relayed to the Philippine embassy in Beijing its official position on the issue.

In a statement posted on its website, the ministry said China “demands that the Philippines respects the sovereignty of Chinese territory and does nothing more to aggravate or complicate the situation further.”

It asserted that “Scarborough Shoal is an integrative part of Chinese territory,” adding that the Philippine government’s proposal to bring the issue to ITLOS “contravenes the fundamental principles of international relations and also inflicts serious damage on the current international order.”

China claims the entire South China Sea as part of its territory, even waters close to the Philippines, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries.

Zhang Hua, the Chinese embassy spokesperson, had earlier told the Inquirer that Beijing’s decision not to bring the conflict to Itlos was final.

Zhang insisted that the shoal, which China calls Huangyan Island, “is China’s inherent territory on which we have sufficient legal basis.”

The Philippines, on the other hand, refers to the Scarborough Shoal as Bajo de Masinloc and Panatag Shoal, and insists it belongs to the country.

In a text message, Zhang said Manila should “fully respect China’s sovereignty.”

Don’t complicate things

He said the Philippine government must “commit to the consensus we reached on settling the incident through friendly diplomatic consultations, and not to complicate or aggravate this incident so that peace and stability in that area can be reached.”

Raul Hernandez, the DFA spokesperson, had told reporters that “hopefully, the impasse would be resolved as quickly as possible with discussions with the Chinese side.”

If the Chinese side insisted on not going to Itlos, he said they were “prepared to do it alone.”

Last week, talks between the two sides ended in a stalemate, according to the DFA.
On Wednesday, DFA Assistant Secretary for Asia and Pacific Affairs Ma. Theresa Lazaro handed over a note verbale to Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Ma Keqing during a meeting at  DFA headquarters in Pasay City.

The DFA “noted with concern the Chinese statement that they have become more assertive because the Philippines allegedly broke an agreement on the pullout of the (Philippine and Chinese) ships and fishing boats (from the shoal).”

It pointed out “there has never been an agreement reached.”

“The DFA is of the view that it was unfortunate that the Chinese response was based on inaccurate appreciation of the facts and dynamics of the negotiations,” it said.
The DFA informed the Chinese embassy that in order to address the impasse and to avoid future misunderstandings, the dialogue between the two governments must be based on complete trust and the confidence that information must be an accurate rendition of facts.

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