MANILA, Philippines – China should join the Philippines’ peaceful and diplomatic approach to settling the West Philippine Sea dispute rather than make adverse statements or accuse Manila of damaging relations with Beijing.
In a press briefing, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the Philippines is entitled to pursue whatever it feels is necessary to protect its territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Asked if the Philippines is preparing for any economic backlash for confronting China before an international arbitral tribunal, Coloma said, “Our foreign policy is based on principles and we are not swayed by (drawing) a scenario. We will protect our national interest, which includes the economy.”
Beijing has rejected Manila’s challenge that it join the arbitration and even threatened the Philippines with sanctions.
Last Sunday, Manila electronically transmitted a 4,000-page memorial or written argument of its position on the West Philippine Sea issue to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea based in The Hague, Netherlands.