PNoy vows to fight for Scarborough Shoal
MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday vowed to defend the Philippines' sovereignty over Scarborough Shoal and asked China to fulfill its obligations under international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
"Hinahabol natin ay hindi i-escalate ang problema pero at the end of the day, obligado po ako, nasa Saligang Batas po 'yan, kung di ako nagkakamali sa Article 2, and that I have to defend the patrimony. So ito po ay pag-aari natin, pagkatagal-tagal na po na pag-aari natin, recognized by international law, specifically the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea where we and China are both signatories,” Aquino said during a forum with the People Power Volunteers for Reform.
“And that’s the only thing we’re asking. Sumang-ayon tayo dito, nilagdaan noong ating mga kinatawan, nandoon rin tayo doon sa treaty on endangered species na di ba nakita naman po niyo’yong pinagkukuha noong mga mangingisda nila. Tuparin lang po natin ‘yong mga obligasyon, ayon doon sa mga kasunduang pinirmahan ng mga otorisadong representante natin,” he added.
With China not amenable to the Philippine proposal to bring the matter to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, Aquino indicated that what the Philippines can do is to influence the opinion of other countries on China.
“So ang ginagawa po natin, talagang parang pinakasandata po natin dito ay malaman ng buong mundo kung anong ginagawa sa atin dahil… marami ho silang relasyon sa iba’t-ibang bansa sa mundo na mapapag-isip ’yung mga ibang bansa rin naman. Kung ganito tayo tinatrato at sila’y kasinlaki natin o mas maliit sa atin baka dumating ang panahon ganoon rin ang pagtrato sa kanila,” Aquino said.
Chinese embassy lying, military says
As the Scarborough Shoal stand-off drags on, the Philippine military is accusing the Chinese embassy of lying.
The Armed Forces' Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) said contrary to Beijing's claims, advanced patrol vessel Yuzheng 310 and surveillance ship CMS 83 have not left the disputed area.
"We are not doubting their claims, we are telling them they are not telling the truth. The Yuzheng had been spotted eight nautical miles southeast of the shoal," said Lt. Gen. Anthony Alcantara, Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Nolcom chief.
Five other Chinese fishing boats have also been spotted at Scarborough Shoal.
"We will not allow the Chinese to conquer our territory," Alcantara said.
On Monday, the Chinese Embassy said, two of its vessels were pulled out of Scarborough Shoal, adding that the move was meant to ease tensions with the Philippines.
"The withdrawal of the two ships proves once again China is not escalating the situation as some people said," said Chinese embassy spokesperson Zhang Hua.
While Manila and Beijing have vowed to resolve the matter peacefully, the Philippine Armed Forces asserted that it is ready to defend the country's sovereignty.
"I can assure you that the AFP is prepared, the government is prepared to handle the situation. We call on our countryment to support your military," Alcantara said.
China has so far ignored the Philippines's call to bring the territorial dispute to an international court. - with a report from Jay Ruiz, ABS-CBN News, ANC