MANILA (Mabuhay) – Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile on Wednesday said the Philippines’ decision along with China not to raise the contentious issue of territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea during the Asia Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) meeting in the country is a lost opportunity.
“Dapat yung mga diplomats mo… Kaya ka may diplomats para mautusan mo sila to find out maximum, minimum, doable, possible approaches,” Enrile told reporters.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Charles Jose earlier said that the Philippines and China agreed that APEC is an economic forum and will not be the proper venue to discuss political security issues.
“We are not raising the South China Sea issue first and foremost because we have a pending case before an arbitral tribunal and we prefer not to discuss the case publicly and secondly APEC is not the proper forum to discuss the issue,” Jose said.
Enrile, a former defense secretary, said the “security the primary problem of the country today.”
“With the way we are handling our country, security wise, we do not want EDCA [Enchanced Defense Cooperation Agreement], we do not want the Americans, but the only ones that can really protect us for us and for us to use as a shield, wala nang iba kung hindi yung ating mutual defense treaty, pagkatapos hindi natin gustong kausapin yung mga kaaway natin, pumupunta rito sa ating bansa,” he said.
Meanwhile, Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. urged the Aquino administration to grab the opportunity presented by the APEC meeting to repair the country’s diplomatic relations with China that has been strained in recent years over maritime territorial disputes.
“I think we should take every opportunity to talk to the Chinese, be it formally, be it informally,” Marcos said in a press release Wednesday.
“As long as the two sides are talking there is hope we can find a peaceful solution to the territorial dispute,” he said. (MNS)