MANILA – The Philippines’ “soft position” on China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea is putting the country at a disadvantage, an international law expert said Sunday.
The Chinese army installed anti-ship and air-to-air defenses on outposts claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines over the last 30 days, American television network CNBC reported last week, citing sources close to US intelligence.
Manila needs to take a stronger stand after this development if it wants to preserve its advantage from a United Nations-backed arbitral ruling that recognized its maritime entitlements in the area, said Atty. Jay Batongbacal of the University of the Philippines (UP) Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea.
“Hindi tumatalab itong ‘soft position’ natin. Ang nangyayari lang bigay lang tayo nang bigay,” Batongbacal said in an interview with radio DZMM.
(This “soft position” is not working. The only thing happening is we keep giving and giving.)
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China’s continued militarization of the South China Sea would allow it to take control of the area, he said.
“Ngayon ang ginagawa ng China, dahil naglalagay nga siya ng armas diyan, clearly ang objective n’ya ay to take control of the South China Sea.”
(Now, what China is doing, because it’s deploying arms there, clearly its objective is to take control of the South China Sea.)