Press Release
June 20, 2011


Following the meeting of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Senator Edgardo J. Angara urged the Philippine government to continue seeking dialogue with other Asian countries involved in the territorial dispute over the Spratly Islands.

This peaceful resolution may be achieved through the formation of a diplomatic team that will spearhead negotiations, said Angara, vice-chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

"The Philippines lacks the military capability to match China's show of naval power in the disputed sea," said the lawmaker. "But it should not make the government any less assertive in protecting our territorial claims."

"Increased military pressure will only exacerbate the problem. There is no substitute for international dialogue." he said.

In March of this year, Angara called on the government to file a diplomatic protest against "bullying" from Chinese military ships in the Recto (Reed) Bank, which is 80 nautical miles from Palawan and clearly within the 200-nautical-mile internationally recognized bounds of national territory.

In a privilege speech on the Senate floor, Angara said that the Philippines has no reason to quarrel with China, nor does China have any reason to infringe upon Philippine rights. He called on the Philippines to "sit down and protest against the incursion."

The Department of Foreign Affairs filed a diplomatic protest before the Chinese embassy following the incident.

However, a Chinese military vessel was again reported to have bullied a Philippine fishing boat in the disputed area earlier this month.

Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos and Singapore all issued statements echoing the Philippines' sentiments for peaceful means to resolve the conflict, seeking to maintain security in the West Philippine Sea and calling on all parties to adhere to the 1982 UNCLOS.

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