MANILA, Philippines – A visiting delegation of 5 US congressmen supports the Philippines’ decision to ask an arbitral tribunal to resolve the territorial dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea.
The lawmakers conveyed this message to President Benigno Aquino III during a courtesy call in Malacañang Palace on Wednesday, January 30, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.
In a statement, the DFA said the US Congressional Delegation headed by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep Ed Royce told Aquino that “the Philippines’ legal track promotes the peaceful resolution to the dispute” in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
“The outcome of the proceeding would provide more stability and predictability in the region,” the DFA quoted the American congressmen as saying.
They also “expressed that they will convey back home that the US should take a stronger stance in the West Philippine Sea dispute,” the DFA said.
East Asian tour
The US lawmakers visited the Philippines from January 23-30 on the 3rd stop of a tour around East Asia that took them first to South Korea and Taiwan, and will end in China.
On Tuesday the delegation met with Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Energy Secretary Carlos Petilla and Natural Resources and Environment Secretary Ramon Paje to discuss maritime security, defense, trade and investment.
After the meeting, DFA Assistant Secretary for American Affairs Carlos Sorreta said the lawmakers “were very interested in the merits of our arguments” regarding the West Philippine Sea.
“We conveyed our determination to see this case through and they have said they will support it,” he told reporters.
Sorreta added: “Their next stop is China, and it is our hope [that] they will discuss it with the Chinese.” – with reports from Carlos Santamaria/Rappler.com
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