President Benigno Aquino III consulted lawmakers and two of his immediate predecessors before the Philippines made the move of dragging China before an international body to settle a territorial dispute.
Aquino told reporters covering his visit to Switzerland: “We brought the matter before them [lawmakers and former Presidents Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada]… Nobody objected (to going to arbitration).”
Portions of the interview were aired on government-run dzRB radio Saturday noon.
The President said he also invited members of the judiciary to get their inputs but they were having an en banc meeting at the time.
Aquino was quoted in the dzRB report as saying the Philippines had been “very patient” with China, but “unfortunately there’s no reciprocation.”
Last Tuesday, the Department of Foreign Affairs announced it is haling China before a United Nations arbitration body to settle a simmering territorial row.
DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario said this involves bringing China before an arbitral tribunal under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), “to achieve a peaceful and durable solution to the dispute over the West Philippine Sea.”
The DFA, however, said that despite the move, the Philippines considers China a friend.
“We will continue to pursue an enhancement of our bilateral relations in all areas of cooperation,” it said.
Meanwhile, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte on Saturday declined to comment on reports that Thailand will try to find a common position among Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) members on the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) issue.
A report on Bangkok Post quoted Sihasak Phuangketkaew, permanent secretary at the Foreign Ministry, as saying this (Thailand’s effort) is by virtue of its being as coordinator of ASEAN-China relations.
The report said ASEAN had appointed Thailand as its country coordinator for ASEAN-China relations from July 2012 to July 2015.
It said Thailand also plans to hold separate talks with each of the countries that lay claim to disputed areas, as attempts to resolve the conflicts in larger meetings failed last year.
ASEAN members Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei lay claim to parts of the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), along with China and Taiwan.
Asked if this will affect the Philippines’ present case against China before the UN, Valte would not comment.
“Perhaps ang international law expert na ang dapat sumagot at kasamahan sa DFA kung magkakaroon ng effect (It is best to ask international law experts and officials of the DFA on whether Thailand’s effort would affect the Philippines recent move),” she said. — LBG, GMA News