Skip to main content

Philippines to exhaust all diplomatic, legal remedies

MANILA, Philippines - In the face of China’s refusal to bring up the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal issue before an international court, Malacañang vowed yesterday to exhaust all diplomatic and legal means to resolve the matter.

“We would hope that they will join us in the peaceful settlement of this matter. But, again, we will exhaust our efforts to come up (with) a peaceful resolution to this incident,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said. 

China’s foreign ministry has rejected the Philippines’ proposal that the Panatag Shoal dispute be brought to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea or other international forums.

Lacierda also expressed hope that the meeting between Filipino and American officials in Washington this week would be fruitful. The Philippines is seeking assistance from the United States to improve its defense capability.

Lacierda said it would be up to the Department of Foreign Affairs to continuously engage Chinese officials and make them reconsider their rejection of the Philippine proposal.

China’s deployment of surveillance ships to Panatag Shoal to prevent Philippine Navy sailors from arresting Chinese poachers had heightened tensions in the West Philippine Sea, which China claims as its own.

Filipino and Chinese vessels are in a standoff around the shoal, only 124 nautical miles from Zambales and well within the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone.

On Sunday, President Aquino maintained that the country would not go to war with China and ordered all concerned government agencies to document recent aggressive actions of Chinese vessels in the area for possible filing of a case before international courts.

On Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s observation that the US is unlikely to help the Philippines at this time considering its own ties with China, Lacierda said it’s the senator’s “analysis” and that “we should just wait for the discussions in the two-plus-two talks.” 

He was referring to the Washington talks yesterday between Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and their US counterparts Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

In her observation, Santiago said the Philippines can depend on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for the crafting of a binding code of conduct in the West Philippine Sea.  

Message of support Meanwhile, the Nationalist People’s Coalition, one of the largest political parties in the country, has voiced its support for President Aquino’s stand on the Panatag Shoal dispute.

In a statement issued by its spokesman, Valenzuela City Rep. Rex Gatchalian, the NPC said it is supporting the government’s plan to bring the issue to international forums.

It said the plan is a reminder to China “that we are living in a time when conflicts and disagreements between sovereign nations are resolved by applicable international laws and doctrines.”

“While we respect China’s position that the matter should be confined only between them and us, it is obvious that Beijing is using its superior strength and size to intimidate Manila into giving in to their will in connection with Panatag Shoal,” it said.

The NPC recalled that both China and the Philippines signed the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

“In fact, China ratified it on July 6, 1996, thereby agreeing to be bound by its provisions, one of which is that anything within 200 miles from the baseline of a country belongs to that country,” it said. Panatag Shoal is just 124 miles off Zambales, while it is more than three times that distance from China.

The NPC is identified with Aquino’s uncle businessman Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. It is part of the pro-administration majority coalition in the House of Representatives.

Another ranking NPC member, former Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco, said the Aquino government is doing a good job in protecting the country’s sovereignty. “I support President Aquino’s strong stand in protecting our sovereignty and one of the best ways of doing it is by seeking the appropriate advice and opinion of other friendly countries like the United States,” he said.   He said China’s aggressive stance might have been brought about by its desire to control the mineral and oil deposits believed buried under the disputed area.    

Fishers appeal to China An alliance of militant fishermen, for its part, appealed to China to “refrain from harassing Filipino fishermen returning to Panatag Shoal to catch fish.”

In a letter, the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) asked China’s Prime Minister Wen Jiabao “to instruct Chinese naval patrol forces currently deployed in (Panatag Shoal) to cease and desist from scaring or terrorizing the Filipino fishermen.”

“Our fisherfolk are asserting their sovereign rights and livelihood rights. The Beijing government should recognize and respect our fishermen asserting these political and sovereign rights,” Pamalakaya national chairman Fernando Hicap said in the letter.  

Aurea Calica | The Philippine Star/Yahoo News Online | May 1, 2012 | Article Link


More Philippine Defense News

DND wants frigate with 'surface-to-air' missile power

MANILA, Philippines - Defense spokesperson Peter Paul Galvez announced on Friday that one of the frigates to be acquired by the Philippines will have "surface-to-air" capabilities. That is, the ship will have the capability to fire missiles, guided by radar or heat sensors, at airborne targets.
"Aside from this, our latest frigate will have heavier gun armament and other equipment that will make it very effective in patrolling and securing the country's waters," Galvez said in Filipino.
He declined to state the particular country the Philippines will acquire this ship but stressed that acquisition will be done through a government-to-government transaction.
The Philippines has taken on a new sense of urgency to upgrade its naval capabilities as tensions continue to rise around the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). US President Barack Obama's announced "pivot" for America towards the Pacific has stirred greater naval activity on the p…

No reduction in AFP manpower size

THERE will be no reduction in the number of soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines when it implements the streamlining of commands by 2013, a senior officer told the Manila Standard in an exclusive interview.
“Under the Force Structure Review, there will be streamlining of units but this does not mean reduction in terms of the number of soldiers. In fact, the FSR calls for more recruits in the future,” the source, who requested anonymity, said.
At present, the military has a total of 125,000 soldiers, of which almost 85,000 are in the Army and the rest in the Navy-Marines and Air Force.
The FSR calls for an in-depth study of the AFP history in reference to pertinent laws of the land in conjunction with the challenges of internal and external defense.
The study also calls for the establishment of a strategic command that will focus on external defense where the main force would be the Air Force and Navy.
On instructions of Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, former military ch…

Philippine Armored Vehicles with ad-hoc wood slat armor

While searching for Philippine armored vehicles for the updates being done for both the blog and the Facebook page I chanced upon images of Philippine Army and Marine armor assets covered with thick wood planks as slat armor for protection from rocket propelled grenades. This caught the eyes of Popular Mechanics who published an article last June 8th just for this subject.

According to the article,
Wood armor on armored vehicles won't save them from ISIS rockets. Not sure, I'll leave that to the actual reports from the Philippine Military in using wood as an ad hoc protection for rpg's, but yes this is only during emergencies. The Philippine Army and Philippine Marines should employ or use the real add-on armors currently in the market for armored vehicle protection. Or they could just simply buy new thicker-armored vehicles to be used for front-line operations and have the old vehicles to be used in secondary missions or as support vehicles.

Nonetheless the fast-thinkin…