Escudero urges gov’t to push through arbitration to resolve West Philippine Sea row

By Jelly F. Musico

MANILA, Feb. 26 (PNA) – Senator Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero on Wednesday said the government should push through arbitration to resolve the territorial dispute with China in West Philippine Sea.

Escudero made the recommendation after China rejected the Philippines’ protest on the water cannon attack against Filipino fishermen almost a month ago.

”The government should do what we did in the previous years, get the international support to pressure China to conform with the international practices in the settlement of this issue,” Escudero said.

Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on finance, said the rejection of the protest was expected from China.

”That is their right (to reject) in the same manner that we will also fight our sovereignty in the disputed territory,” the lawmaker said.

He said he is also supporting the approach being used by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) not to ignore the water cannon attack.

”The government is doing right for bringing the issue at the proper forum through diplomatic means,” Escudero said.

The senator from Bicol said military solution is an option but “it should be at the very tail end in so far as” the settlement of the West Philippine Sea dispute is concerned.

”There was no territorial dispute settled through the use of arms and force in the history of the world,” Escudero said.

He urged the Filipinos to be patient as it would really take decades of waiting to settle territorial dispute in any part of the world.

”We should be more patient. We cannot solve it overnight. What is important is we should not give up our right (for these territories) and not resort to arms struggle,” Escudero said.

He said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has intention to increase its presence “to assert our sovereignty but we still lack the equipment to do it.”

”We have no forward position in the area because we have no aircraft carrier but our armed forces have the capacity to increase their presence there,” Escudero said. (PNA)