International Tribunal decision to handle PHL case against China, a welcome development -- ex-Guam governor
By Priam F. Nepomuceno

ANGELES CITY, PAMPANGA, Nov. 8 (PNA) --- Two-term Guam Gov. Carl T. C. Gutierrez welcomed the decision of the decision of the International Tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands to assume jurisdiction over the Philippines' case against China.

"It is the best thing to happen, it will benefit a lot of Filipinos (in the future)," he said during an interview at the Lewis Grand Hotel in Angeles City, Sunday.

The Philippines is seeking to invalidate China's massive claim in the resource-rich South China Sea.

He also expressed hope that this will help curb incidents of Chinese bullying among weaker and smaller claimant nations in the resource rich areas of the South China Sea.

Gutierrez also lauded intentions of former Marine Capt. Nicanor Faeldon to mobilize 10,000 youths and deploy them to Pagasa Island, the largest of the 10 Philippine-owned features in the Spratly Islands, to show to China that Filipinos will not tolerate any encroachment on its territory.

Of the seven islands and three reefs being controlled by the Philippines, Pagasa is the largest measuring 37.2 hectares.

Other Philippine possessions in the Spratlys include Likas Island which measures 18.6 hectares, Parola Island, 12.7 hectares, Lawak Island 7.93 hectares, Kota Island, 6. 45 hectares, Patag Island, 0.57, Panata Island, 0.44, Rizal, Balagtas and Ayungin Reefs.

This action symbolizes the "rising up" of the Philippines, he added.

Gutierrez also lauded recent US government announcement that it will continue "freedom of navigation patrols" in the disputed areas of the South China Sea, adding that this shows American commitment to its long-time allies.

"(I am happy that the US) has decided not to allow its allies to (be bullied) anymore," he stressed.

Earlier, the USS Lassen, an Arleigh Burke guided-missile destroyer, made a passage 12 nautical miles off Chinese artificial islands in the Spratly Islands, albeit shadowed by two Chinese warships.

Gutierrez added the US "Pivot to the Pacific" can be demonstrated by the fact that Guam, one of the largest US bases, in the Pacific area is now being built up, with major improvements being done on its airfields, harbors and other military installations.

Around USD8 billion has been spent to improve Guam's capability to handle military equipment and personnel needed to enforce America's decision to "rebalance" its forces in the Pacific.

Gutierrez cited as examples the case of Guam's North and NorthWest Airfields, former bases of American B-29 heavy bombers in World War II which were closed down after the conflict, which are now operating and handling surveillance drones of the US military alongside with the ultra-modern and stealthy B-2 "Spirit" bombers.

He also said that renewed US presence in the long-run will help the Philippines due to its close proximity to the country.

Gutierrez was invited by the EXPAT MARINE ASSOCIATION as keynote speaker on the 240th United States Marine Corps Birthday.

"As you know, Guam had a Marine presence since the early 20th century, with the Americans having claimed Guam after the Spanish-American War in 1898. Since that time, many familial ties have been established between Marines and Chamorros, much like there have been with Filipinos," he added.

"But more than that, I, as a Chamorro, feel inextricably linked with the Marines, and will forever grateful to them because of the liberation of my island of Guam from Japanese Imperial Forces on July 21, 1944," Gutierez stressed. (PNA)

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