Press Release
July 26, 2011


Senator Edgardo J. Angara commended President Benigno Aquino III's firm position on the Spratly issue, especially his vow to protect the country's territorial interests.

In his second State of the Nation Address, Aquino said that setting foot on the Recto bank is equivalent to setting foot on Recto Avenue. He also mentioned that the government is looking into the possibility of elevating the recent incidents in the West Philippine Sea to the attention of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, the United Nations body that handles disputes stemming from the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Angara, who has been calling for diplomatic and institutional measures in response following the succession of incidents involving Chinese and Philippine maritime vehicles, said it is about time the Philippine government demonstrates determination to protect and fight for its interests.

"We cannot be anything less than resolute in claiming what is rightfully ours. First, we should seek diplomatic dialogue because we should not allow violence to erupt in the West Philippine Sea.

"I also agree that we have to enhance our capabilities in defending our borders though this should go beyond the capability for brute force," he explained.

Angara welcomed the planned purchase of new modern equipment, marine vessels and aircraft through transparent means, as well as increasing the benefits of the country's soldiers and law enforcers.

He is also proposing another kind of institutional capacity building through the creation of an Institute of Maritime Affairs, which will identify, train and mobilize Filipino experts in the legal, social and economic aspects of naval concerns.

"We lost Sabah because we had no experts to follow up on our claims after the administration changed then. We cannot make the same mistakes with regard to the West Philippine Sea. It is our hope for energy independence," stressed Angara. "We must exhaust all means available to us to protect our interests in the West Philippine Sea."

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