A lawmaker allied with the administration in the House of Representatives has urged the Aquino administration to resist pressure from China for Philippines to enter bilateral negotiations over West Philippine Sea issue.
Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian said the government should not sit down with China in negotiation table especially after the economic giant excluded the country in the “Maritime Silk Road” and with increasing construction activities in West Philippine Sea.
“The Philippines should continue playing hardball with China in terms of the ongoing territorial dispute. There should be no bilateral negotiations. Why should we negotiate our own backyard?” Gatchalian said.
“Sitting with China in a negotiating table is almost waving the white flag. The Philippines should not allow China to bully its way into claiming practically all of the disputed waters. It will certainly use its economic and political forces as leverage on the Philippines,” he added.
News reports showed that China has a big reclamation project on Kagitingan Reef (Fiery Cross Reef) in the Kalayaan group of islands (known internationally as Spratly islands) to convert it for military use, particularly the Chinese Navy.
A Chinese state-run newspaper articles also reported that the Philippines and Vietnam should get used to more construction projects by the country in the South China Sea.
China has also left out the Philippines in its “21st Century Maritime Silk Road”, an infrastructure that would invest billions in ports such as in Singapore and Jakarta.
Official Chinese maps, based on a report by the Wall Street Journal, “show the route conspicuously bypassing the Philippines” but the Chinese embassy in Manila has denied the said report.
Gatchalian, a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, also agreed with Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Laura Del Rosario, who said the country is “doing a service” and that “all of them (Southeast Asian countries) will benefit” once the United Nations or UN court in The Hague rules on the legality of China’s extensive claim on South China Sea.
“If no one will stand up against China’s bullying, who will? If not now, when? Should we wait until China has already put up structures in the West Philippine Sea?” said Gatchalian.
“It is the government’s duty to protect its people and their interests, and right now, the future of our resources, our patrimony, is on the line,” Gatchalian concluded. (Monica Cantilero)