SF Congen weighs in on PH dispute vs. China

By Rommel Conclara, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

June 19, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO – Recent reports of developments and reclamation by both China and the Philippines in the disputed areas are only expected to heighten tensions in the West Philippine Sea.

The Philippines has formally filed complaints against China saying China is building facilities, even an airstrip, in some of the reefs the Philippines claims it owns.

But the Philippines and the U.S. are also reportedly planning to turn one of the disputed areas into a naval base and proceeding with the U.S. and Philippine naval exercises there this month.

As the Philippines asks a U.N. tribunal to speed up its appeal for this dispute to be addressed diplomatically some kababayans here in America weigh in on this seemingly never-ending conflict.

At the San Francisco Philippine Consulate recently, the community welcomed the new consul general – Henry Bensurto, Jr., an expert on West Philippine Sea affairs.

He was part of the team that was instrumental in filing the arbitration case against China.

“Once the disputes are settled through arbitration it will not only benefit us but it will also benefit the other literal countries in the region,” said Bensurto. “It was also provide stability in terms of global trade because the South China Sea is where you have 60 percent of global trade passing through. You would want principals of freedom of navigation guaranteed and ensured.”

Despite China’s resistance to arbitration, this Consul General believes that the Philippines is moving in the right direction in settling its dispute with China.

“We have always been on the right track,” said Bensurto. “Because all of the methodologies we have done for ourselves are all within the context and parameters of peaceful settlement of disputes including dialogue, negotiations, even arbitration.”

Fil-Am community leader George Gange says the Philippines cannot afford to go to war against China because he says we will be outmatched.

“Until when are we going to be careful with our words and allow them to bully us,” said Gange. “I don’t know. But I hope that what I fear will not happen that a full blown war will happen in the South China Sea.”

Another community leader Rudy Ascercion says all we could do now is hope against hope that a full-blown war against China will not happen.

He says the only way this conflict will be solved is if both countries sit down and agree to divide the territories there evenly.

“That is the only way it can work because nobody is going to let go of what their possessions are,” said Ascercion. “It’s sovereignty that’s in question. So everybody’s sovereign right are being exercised so the only way it works out is if they agree to share.”

You can contact Rommel Conclara at rommel_conclara@abs-cbn.com for more information.

2 Comments on this post.

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  • Kuya
    19 June 2014 at 6:50 pm - Reply

    I think dividing the territories in the Spratly is not the best way to solve the problem. In my opinion respecting and following the UNCLOS agreement of 200nm EEZone for every country surrounding the South China Sea is the best solution, since that was agreed and signed by the members.

  • victor
    24 June 2014 at 6:10 pm - Reply

    I agree that we should follow the 200m as signed by the members but it is not binding or enforceble because the UN is just doing nothing.This people are expert on delay and grab which is a communist tactic specially that PINOY is just doing nothing.I suggest we sink some derelict ships in each island to be manned by soldiers and raise our flag.It is just matter of time when the Chinese reclaimed some island and built a airfield by then it will hard to dislodged them.Diplomacy is just a waste of time.Time is of the essence.Move!!!