MANILA, Philippines – Defending the Philippines’ territorial claims, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario put his foot down to the point of breaking “diplomatic niceties,” a report said Wednesday, July 3.
In a report by Reuters, the Singapore foreign minister was quoted as saying that Del Rosario engaged in “testy exchanges” with his Chinese counterpart in the ongoing Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) forum in Brunei.
This supposedly happened last Sunday, June 30, incidentally the day when Del Rosario “expressed serious concern over the increasing militarization of the South China Sea.”
Reuters said that, on that day, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi delivered a litany of complaints against the Philippines. Wang decried the Philippines’ moves that supposedly aggravated the rift over the South China Sea.
“Del Rosario was not scheduled to speak, but after hearing Wang’s speech at Sunday’s closed-door meeting in the kingdom of Brunei, he raised his hand and proceeded to rebut China’s allegations one by one, according to Philippine diplomats,” Reuters said.
Reuters described this as a “departure from the usual diplomatic niceties.”
In his public statement on Sunday, Del Rosario didn’t give details about the supposed military build-up in the South China Sea. However, he said the Chinese actions violated a pact in 2002 in which rival claimants to the sea pledged not to take any actions that may increase tensions.
Setting the tone for the Brunei event, a powerful arm of China’s state-run media warned the Philippines on Saturday, June 29, that its defiance could lead to aggressive Chinese action.
Del Rosario on Sunday expressed alarm at such rhetoric.“The statement on counterstrike is an irresponsible one. We condemn any threats of use of force. We condemn that. And we continue to pursue the resolution of our disputes in a peaceful way,” he said. – Rappler.com