Colmenares: PH should not seek US help in South China Sea
MANILA, Philippines – Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares said that the Philippines must fight for the disputed waters of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) independent of nations with vested interests.
"Let us rely on ourselves like Vietnam and other countries that didn't seek from the United States," Colmenares said in a mix of Filipino and English on Tuesday, October 20.
Colmenares is part of the a group that is pushing for the inclusion of maritime disputes in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit (APEC) agenda in November. (READ: APEC in Manila: Aquino to dodge row with China)
He said that, if a country like Vietnam, which is economically behind the Philippines, is pursuing its claim on its own, then the Philippines should be able to do so as well.
"Economically nga, mas-lamang pa tayo sa Vietnam eh, so ano'ng pinagkaiba nila sa atin?" he said. (We are more economically advanced than Vietnam. How different are they from us?)
"Kung kailangan nating humingi ng tulong, humingi tayo ng tulong sa international community, huwag sa mga bansa na may national interest," he said. Colmenares said the United States, for instance, is after advancing its own national interest in extending aid to the Philippines.
(If we need help we should seek help from the international community, not from countries with national interest.)
The Philippines has a military agreement with the United States, allowing the two countries' armed forces to conduct joint exercises even near disputed waters. The US has declared it would come to Manila's aid should the latter be attacked over at the South China Sea.
On Tuesday, October 20, the Pilipinong Nagkakaisa para sa Soberanya (PINAS) held its first general assembly at Miriam College in Quezon City.
PINAS anticipates the coming of US President Barack Obama and China President Xi Jinping to the Philippines for the APEC Summit in November. (READ: US, China foreign ministers discuss tensions over islands)
"We will welcome presidents Obama and Jinping with placard 'Hands off the Philippines,'" said group convenor and former Gabriela Women's Party Representative Liza Maza.
The group – organized in June by Colmenares, former Senator Rene Saguisag, and artist Bibeth Orteza – wishes to bring the issues of China's reclamation and US' increased military presence in the country to the attention of global leaders attending the November summit.
"These two imperialist countries want to control that part of our exclusive economic zone and extend continental shelf for their own economic and military agenda," Maza added.
In recent months, China's construction in the reclaimed waters has been fast-paced. The country has completed the construction of the 10,000-foot airstrip on the Fiery Cross Reef in September and two lighthouses on the Cuateron and Johnson South Reefs earlier this month. – Rappler.com