Analyst: Talks can be key to resolve PH-China row

A noted political said the disputes between the Philippines and China in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) can best be addressed through proper negotiations.

The analyst, Ramon Casiple, vice president of Novo Trends PH, the Philippines admittedly cannot afford to wage war China over disputes in the highly-contested WPS or South China Sea (SCS).

“Whether bilaterally or multilaterally, we need to negotiate because we cannot afford war. We do not have capability for that,” Casiple said during the virtual Pandesal Forum.

Casiple said a “non-adversarial approach” to the problem is preferred and the Philippines needs to have “many countries on our side” to protect the country’s interest in WPS.

“Filipinos should have a unified stand on WPS issue. I don’t think it’s proper for Filipinos to debate on it,” he added.

Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo on Sunday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to initiate multilateral talks to gain support from other countries rather than continue bilateral talks with China to settle WPS row.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Tuesday rejected Robredo’s proposal, however, and said Duterte’s independent foreign policy is “correct and working.”

On July 12, 2016 the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, Netherlands ruled in favor of the Philippines in its case against China and declared that Beijing’s sweeping claims over almost the entire sea have no legal basis.

China keeps ignoring the PCA ruling, and Chinese vessels are still within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) despite the Department of Foreign Affairs’ filing of diplomatic protests against Beijing.