MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines on Monday assured China that it remains committed to ensuring peace and stability in the region, even with an increased presence of US troops in the country.
Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte gave the assurance while fielding questions on Beijing’s statement urging “relevant” parties to exert more “effort” towards peace and stability in the region, made after the Philippines posed no objections to increased US troops in its territory.
Asked if China has anything to worry about in terms of the Philippines’ commitment to peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific, Valte said, “From our point of view, none. We continue to be committed to ensuring peace and stability in the region.”
She reiterated the Philippines’s position that “in connection to whatever disputes that we may have, our commitment remains firm that we will pursue every diplomatic channel, avenue, recourse that we have to be able to solve it peacefully.”
Valte added that the Philippines has “always believed in the commitment of China when they said that everybody in this dispute is committed to resolving it as diplomatically, as peacefully as possible.”
She said any arrangements entered into by the Philippines with other governments would not compromise regional stability.
“It is something that we do not wish to do given our commitment to resolving these disputes peacefully and diplomatically.”
Valte reiterated that bilateral talks on defense cooperation between the Philippines and the US are just in the “early stages of discussion” and are being pursued “with or without the existence of a dispute.”
“This is something that our defense capability sorely needs and we will be looking to whoever can give us the assistance that we need by way of upgrading our capabilities in, especially with regard to equipment that we can get,” she said.
Valte added that any increased US military presence in the Philippines would be duly guided by the framework of the PHL-US Visiting Forces Agreement and the 1987 Constitution. – Rappler.com