Lacson: PH should not be ‘confrontational’ with China
Seeking the help of other countries in dealing with China would only worsen tensions, says the senator

Sen. Panfilo Lacson. Photo from Senate website

MANILA, Philippines – Avoid confrontation and don’t involve other countries.

This is the piece of advice from Sen Panfilo Lacson to government on how it should deal with its territorial dispute with China.

Speaking at a forum with reporters Monday, July 16, Lacson, chair of the Senate’s National Defense and Security Committee and former National Police chief, noted that China prefers bilateral discussions on the South China Sea.

“No country will advance the interests of another country ahead or on top of their own interests. Bringing in a third country of even 10 countries will not do us any good,” Lacson said.

On Friday, the Philippines criticized Cambodia over the “unprecedented” absence of the traditional joint statement after the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting after Manila requested for the document to include a mention to Scarborough Shoal. (Read: PH slams Cambodia over ASEAN summit)

Cambodia, the chair of the conference and an ally of China, was reported to have blocked efforts to come up with a communiqué.

Lacson also suggested that the Philippines avoid invoking the mutual defense treaty with the US unless as “a matter of last resort.”

What the Philippines can do for now, Lacson said, is consider a a joint exploration of marine resources with China, such as oil and natural gas in those disputed territories.

“At the moment, we cannot eat sovereignty (…) We cannot bargain from a position of weakness. We are very weak right now.” –