PH wants Cambodia's turnaround on Scarborough

MANILA, Philippines – The Palace wants Cambodia to reconsider its stand on the Scarborough Shoal dispute between the Philippines and China, as well as other issues surrounding the South China Sea, said a Palace spokesperson Tuesday, July 17.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda was referring to Cambodia's decision for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) not to issue an Asean Foreign Ministers' Meeting joint statement for the first time.

Cambodia, the Asean foreign ministers' meeting chair, opposed the issuance of the joint statement, in which the Philippines initially wanted to mention the Scarborough Shoal dispute. Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said he simply wanted the statement to include the discussion on the disputed shoal. (Read: PH slams Cambodia over Asean summit.)

“We will be hoping our diplomatic channels may be able to convince Cambodia to look into and see the side of the Philippines, that this is in the best interest of the Asean as a whole,” Lacierda said, downplaying Cambodia's claim that the dispute is bilateral and not regional in nature.

Sticking to the position that it's a bilateral dispute, Lacierda explained, will call Asean into question. “How can we resolve, discuss international, global issues when we cannot fix our own backyard? So it’s something that we should look into.”

Other Asean nations

Lacierda noted Vietnam has also raised a howl over the non-issuance of a joint communiqué after the Asean Foreign Ministers Meeting.

“As to the others, we don't know yet,” he said, deferring to the Department of Foreign Affairs as to whether the Philippines would encourage the rest of the Asean to speak out on the absence of a joint Asean statement.

Meanwhile, the Philippines is still studying the possible redeployment of vessels to Scarborough Shoal, Lacierda said. The basic principle, he said, is to de-escalate tension in the area.

The latest on the South China Sea involves a huge fleet of Chinese fishing vessels. The Philippines is checking if the fishing vessels conduct their operations within the country's exclusive economic zone – in which case the government will file a diplomatic protest against Beijing. (Read: PH warns China: Stay away from Spratlys.) –