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Villar seeks support for Noy on sea dispute

MANILA, Philippines - Senator Manny Villar Jr. has urged the public to rally behind President Benigno Aquino III in seeking for a peaceful resolution to the maritime disputes between the Philippines and China.

While he maintained that the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal is part of the Philippine territory, Villar said top government officials should stop public pronouncements on the issue in a bid to tame down the tension between the two countries.

“The Scarborough Shoal is ours. We should not abandon it. We are not fighting with anyone here, we should actually support our President in this issue,” Villar said in Filipino.

Compared to the Philippines wherein the President has been vocal about the issue, Villar noted that only the Chinese spokesman had been discussing the maritime spat in public.

“For me, it is better if we keep quiet about the issue as of now,” he added. “This should not be misconstrued as cowardice but we should allow the tension to die down because this can be done through diplomacy.”

Villar’s views are supportive of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Senators Joker Arroyo, Antonio Trillanes IV, Gregorio Honasan, and other senators who have early on echoed that diplomacy is the best way to deal with the issues surrounding the West Philippine Sea.

Villar said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) should be given more funds to modernize its armaments and equipment but it should not be seen as an offshoot of the maritime conflict with China.

“We should strengthen the Armed Forces not because of this issue on Scarborough Shoal ... It should not be for anything else, since it is but normal that every country should strengthen its armed forces,” Villar explained. 

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Christina Mendez | The Philippine Star | May 10, 2012 | Article Link

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