Thursday, May 17, 2012

Aquino: Philippines willing to share resources but not sovereignty

MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino wants the whole region to benefit from the huge natural gas deposits in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) but won’t allow other countries to claim  areas that are rightfully the Philippines’.

“I am not empowered to give up any of our territory,” Aquino said during an open forum at a gathering of Wharton business school alumni in Makati City on Wednesday night.

Aquino was reacting to a suggestion that the Philippines and China enter into a 50-50 sharing arrangement for the energy resources in various disputed areas of the West Philippine Sea.

“Now, we have not stopped having communications with them in trying to look for the win-win situation,” the President went on. “But at the same time, you know, I am still bound by an oath that I took to defend and uphold the Constitution and enforce all of our laws.”

“If it’s clear that we have a 200-mile economic zone, exclusive economic zone, designated by the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea, and both of us are parties to it, is it too much to ask that our rights are respected by our neighbors in the same token that we respect their rights?” he added.

Aquino stressed the government’s position to have the dispute resolved diplomatically.  He said the Philippines was in no position to engage China militarily.

“We do not want to present a threat to them in any shape, manner or form, or whatsoever in terms of military action,” he said. “I keep using a joke, even if it were just a boxing match, they’re 1.3 billion and we’re 95 or 93 million. We will not prevail, and that is not the route.”

“So I go back, if we are able to exploit these resources (in a manner) that redounds to benefits for the entire region, we will be less dependent on oil from the Middle East and North Africa,” he said.

South China Sea news

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