Sen. Marcos says Obama’s statement bolsters PH’s position on West Philippine Sea row

Bersyon sa Filipino.

US President Barack Obama’s demand for China to stop building artificial islands in the South China Sea has bolstered the Philippines’ protest and continued opposition to China’s aggressive activities in the West Philippine Sea.

“We welcome President Obama’s demand as another strong stance against China’s aggressive actions in the West Philippine Sea. I appeal to the Chinese government to listen to the growing voice for maritime peace as a diplomatic solution to the territorial dispute,” Marcos said in a statement.

Obama and President Aquino had met on the sideline of the Asia-Pacific Economic Summit Leaders’ Meeting held in Manila and reportedly agreed that a “bold step” is needed to ease the tension in the contested areas heightened by China’s reclamation activities.

Marcos also said Manila and Beijing should not let the territorial dispute between the two countries’ define the long history of friendship, mutual respect and cooperation.

Earlier, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the arbitration case the Philippines filed against China in The Hague is a “knot that has impeded the improvement and development of Sino-Philippines relations” and that it is up to Manila “how to loosen or open the knot”.

The Arbitration Court has ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear the case, but China rejected the Tribunal’s authority.

“It is unfortunate that Philippine-China relations have come to this point. For a long time in our history we have been good neighbors. We should not let our territorial dispute become the focal point of our relations,” said Marcos.

He noted that China has never attempted to colonize the Philippines and when they came here, they came in peace to trade with us.

“In the past Filipino and Chinese fishermen were fishing together, taking shelter together during stormy weathers, eating and drinking together, and going their own ways in peace, “he added.

The Senator said the decision of Chinese President Xi Jinping to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit hosted by Manila provided a rare opportunity to take the first steps in easing the diplomatic tension between our two countries.

Marcos said that for starters Manila and Beijing could agree to strengthen economic ties and put up a crisis mechanism to address issues on the maritime dispute to prevent the escalation of the situation.

Marcos has been urging the Philippine government to explore all other avenues to resolve the dispute, including bilateral talks, particularly after Beijing shifted its position and expressed willingness to discuss the issue based on International Law.

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