ASEAN's collective decision on China's South China Sea naval drills
MANILA, Oct. 18 -- The Philippines wants Southeast Asian nations to
discuss China's proposal of holding naval drills with the Association of
Southeast Asian Nation countries in the South China Sea.
"The Philippine position will be discussed in ASEAN. Hintayin na lang po
natin ‘yung magiging discussion na ito," Deputy Presidential spokesperson
Abigail Valte said when asked to comment on China's proposal.
China’s defense minister said on Friday he was willing to hold joint drills
in the disputed South China Sea with Southeast Asian countries to prevent
accidental encounters and for the effective conduct of search and rescue
China’s relations with several Southeast Asian countries, especially the
Philippines and Vietnam, have soured in recent years because of the Asian
giant's assertive posture in the region.
China has overlapping claims with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan
and Brunei in the South China Sea, which is a major sea lane for trade.
As to the meeting of Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin with the
representative of China and the improving relations between the two
countries, Valte reiterated the multifaceted relations of China and the
Philippines despite their differences in the South China Sea issue.
"We have always maintained that our relationship with China is
multifaceted—meaning, maraming level, maraming pinag-uusapan," Valte said.
"At naniniwala naman tayo na kahit mayroong sigalot involving our neighbor,
we will always endeavor to do well and to deepen the other facets of our
relationship," she added.
"Our lines of communication have always been open when it comes to
discussing the other facets of our relationship," Valte said.
Valte also commented on the plan of the US to fly surveillance planes in the
South China Sea to insist freedom of navigation saying it's up to the US to
carryout such military activities.
The Philippines has no right to dictate on what another country wishes to do
on a particular situation, she said.
Valte emphasized however that freedom of navigation and regional stability
must be maintained in the area because a good bulk of world trade passes
through that region.
"It is important that parties are free to pass through without any
intimidation or harassment, and everyone follows international law," she
said. (PND (as)