By Azer Parrocha
MANILA, (PNA) — Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III said on Wednesday that China will not gain anything from its bullying tactics.
However, he added China will earn great respect and admiration from its neighbors and the world by helping ease tensions with the Philippines concerning the borderline waters of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Pimentel, in a press statement, said the position of the Dept. of Foreign Affairs which asked the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations to speed up negotiations with China to conclude the proposed Code of Conduct would be necessary for the peaceful and orderly maritime protocol.
“We will not fight a war of conquest, but we will defend our territory to secure the rights of our people,” Pimentel said.
“We are bound only by the purity of our intentions and the justice of our cause.”
He said that the latest Chinese intrusion to expand its territory is a clear and present threat to peace in the region which both countries and the ASEAN must avoid.
This will prevent the increase of armed hostility in the critical international shipping route, believed to contain rich reservoir of mineral gas and oil, he said.
The senator also urged Filipino officials and other member-countries of the ASEAN that have overlapping claims in the contested seas to search for peaceful solutions to the conflict.
Previously, Filipino fishermen long plying their living in what is known locally as Bajo de Masinloc have been harassed and prevented from fishing by Chinese ships stationed in the shoal, Pimentel explained.
The shoal is only 230 kilometers off Zambales within the country’s 370-km exclusive economic zone but more than 874 km. from the nearest China coast.
China, on the other hand, said that the shoal, known to the Chinese as Huangyan Island, is part of its “intrinsic territory” where several concrete blocks were discovered recently by Philippine authorities to have been set up in an obvious preparation for the construction of new facilities.