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Philippines patiently waits for China

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines is still hoping that China will give in to its appeal to bilaterally bring the Scarborough dispute to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).

Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez, spokesperson of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said that the Philippines' recommendation to China to bring the dispute to the ITLOS stands as of Friday.

Hernandez, however, said that the Philippine government is also preparing to unilaterally bring the matter to the international court.

"We are preparing to bring this to the ITLOS unilaterally. It's important to exhaust all possibilities to solve this in a friendly manner," the DFA spokesperson said in a radio interview.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lie Weimin had said that China is dismissing the Philippines' request to take the dispute to the international court.

Liu also said that the Philippines' claim over the Scarborough Shoal "runs counter to historical facts and violates the law."

He said China had "lodged solemn representations" with the Philippines and that Fu Ying, a vice foreign minister, had called in the Philippine envoy on Wednesday over the issue.

The Philippines argues that the shoal is well within the country's 370-kilometer (230-mile) exclusive economic zone that is recognized under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.

It said that the shoal, locally known sa Bajo de Masinloc, is part of Zambales province.

International law expert, Lawyer Harry Roque, had said in a radio interview that the Philippines need not wait for China's nod to go to the ITLOS and file a complaint on the incursion of Chinese vessels in the Scarborough Shoal (Panatag), which the DFA insists is well within the Philippine territory.

Hernandez said that instead of directly bringing the matter to the ITLOS, the Philippines decided to go through the diplomatic process of talking to China.
"We adhere to the diplomatic and peaceful means [of resolving the dispute]," Hernandez said.

The DFA spokesperson also reiterated Thursday the Philippine government's stand to solve the dispute without going to war with China.

Hernandez insisted during a press conference at the DFA office that China "is a friend of our country."

President Benigno Aquino III had also assured that the Philippines will not provoke a war with China despite its vessels' continued incursions in the Scarborough Shoal.
Hernandez said that based on the latest report by the Philippine Coast Guard, there are still two Chinese surveillance vessels at the disputed shoal. The Philippines has only one patrol ship in the area, the PCG's BRP EDSA Dos.

He said that according to the PCG, there are no "provocations" so far by the Chinese surveillance vessels.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines' Northern Luzon Command reported Thursday that five foreign vessels, including three big ships and two small boats, have been spotted near the Scarborough Shoal.

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The Philippine Star | April 20, 2012 | Article Link

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