MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday said that nobody stands to gain if the claimant countries in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) would resort to military confrontation.
”There is nobody stands to gain and, in fact, the whole world stands to lose if it does amount to war,” the President replied when asked about the possibility of WPS dispute leading to war during the Publish Asia 2016 media forum at the Manila Hotel.
”I think all countries…all claimant countries in the South China Sea recognize — and other countries that are adjacent to the sea that are not claimant countries — all realized that war is a futile exercise,” he added.
President Aquino said the Philippines renounces war as an instrument of foreign policy.
”We have no illusions of ever trying to march — trying to engage anybody in an arms race or in a military buildup. We would rather devote our resources to the classical economic argument that the butter side rather than the gun side of choosing where to put our resources in,” he said.
The President said the country maintains that “we are both signatories to UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea).”
”UNCLOS gives us a certain set of entitlements and obligations. And that stability has to come about when there is clarity as to each one’s entitlements rather than what one wants to assert out of national interest,” he said.
President Aquino said the WPS or South China Sea dispute is a matter that concerns every country “even those who are very far from this particular body of water where trade is so essential to fostering prosperity for all to improve its people’s lot in life.”
”The uncertainty breeds instability, instability does not promote prosperity. Therefore, let us resolve with certainty the issues that are before us: Who is entitled to what? And what is each one’s obligations relative to this entitlements?,” he said.
In March last year, the Philippines presented to the international arbitration court at The Hague its territorial dispute and concerns over China’s massive reclamation in the WPS, a move that was opposed by China.
The Philippines is expecting the arbitration body to decide on the case before May.
Aside from the Philippines and China, other claimant countries in the South China Sea are Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei. Jelly Musico/PNA/northboundasia.com