MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III remains hopeful that the impasse between Manila and Beijing over the incident at Scarborough Shoal would be resolved diplomatically, since both countries are signatories to the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Mr. Aquino also told reporters that he met with Armed Forces and Coast Guard officials on Tuesday, April 10, to lay out the Rules of Engagement to deter any “eruption of violence” in the disputed area.
Asked if he is still confident of the resolution of the impasse, he said, “China has said let us resolve it through consideration of the international laws that govern such situations. And they agree that Unclos is part of that. We are both signatories to Unclos. No one will benefit if violence erupts there. So we are hoping that [resolution] will happen.”
He said that the Philippines is “really after a resolution on the diplomatic level.”
The President said he summoned Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing on Tuesday over the incident, and that the Chinese envoy was again summoned by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario Wednesday to convey the Philippines’ position on the incident.
“What’s important is to protect our sovereignty. We cannot just give it away. And we have no one to rely on, of course, but ourselves. Given this, we talked with all those concerned–the Armed Forces and even the Coast Guard–so that the so-called ‘Rules of Engagement’ will be clear, to ensure that there would be no eruption of violence,” he said.
The President said that the situation “would seem funny if it were not so tense” since the position taken by China and the Philippines are similar–both are claiming that Scarborough Shoal is within each other’s territory–and that Beijing had summoned the Philippines’ Chargé d’ affaires.
“We are saying that this is within our sovereign territory, what we are doing is proper, why are you entering our territory? What they told our chargé, from what I understand, is…China is claiming Scarborough Shoal, which they said is their indisputable territory and they are protesting the entry of our ship there. So we are saying the same thing but with opposing points of view,” he said. – Rappler.com