Philippines wants tensions to ease in China-U.S. row over West Philippine Sea

MANILA, May 27 (PNA) — The Philippines wants tensions to ease between China and the United States after an American spy plane recently flew over disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

“Hindi naman tayo tuwirang sangkot diyan sa usapin na yan. Pero ang nais naman natin ay huwag itong lumawig, bagkus ay humupa ang tensyon. Kaya nga’t ang ating pokus pa rin ay sa mapayapa at ma-diplomatikong pananaw,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. told reporters during a press briefing when asked to comment on Beijing’s move to file a formal complaint with the U.S. over the incident.

“Para sa atin, ang mahalaga pa rin ay ang interes ng ating bansa. Ayon din sa Pangulo, gagawin natin ang lahat nang magagawa within our resource capabilities at patuloy pa rin naman tayong tatalima doon sa dalawang lines of action — ‘yung tinatawag niyang two-track approach: one track is arbitration; the other one is ASEAN centrality na kung saan ang focus ay doon sa pagbubuo ng isang legally binding Code of Conduct,” Secretary Coloma explained.

China, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan have overlapping claims over the sea, which is believed to have rich deposits of oil and gas, and where trillions of dollars worth of the world’s cargoes pass every year.

Friction in the region has increased over China’s massive reclamation work, which the country is determined to finish, according to the Chinese state-owned newspaper The Global Times.

Washington, meanwhile, has said it would continue air and sea patrols in the area amid concerns that China might impose air and sea restrictions in the sea once the construction of the artificial islands is completed.

The Philippines has filed a memorial before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea against China and has called on fellow leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to help forge a legally binding Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. (PNA)