PHL to take matters legally in asserting ownership over disputed territory: Palace

Malacañang on Thursday, July 11, reiterated its position that the Philippines will not be hasty or careless in dealing with the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea but instead will do everything legal and feasible.

This after a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed that 93 percent of Filipinos believe that it is important for the government to regain control over islands in the West Philippine Sea that are occupied by China.

“Ang posisyon natin ay sa atin iyon, that’s ours. We will do everything legal and feasible to assert ownership over the same and our sovereign rights,” said Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo in a Palace briefing.

“But the reality again, as repeated by the President [Rodrigo Roa Duterte], they [China] are in possession,” Secretary Panelo added.

For now, the Philippines is doing diplomatic negotiations with China on the matter, Panelo said.

“Siyempre… dapat nga 100%. Lahat ng Pilipino dapat would want to have control of the areas that are supposed to be ours. But the reality is may problema tayo doon because China claims to own it, too,” he said.

“Sa ngayon dahil nga may problema on the claim of ownership, dadaanin natin sa diplomatic negotiations. That’s the tact the President has decided [to take],” Panelo added.

While there are no certainties that the diplomatic negotiations will work, the government will still proceed with this strategy since it is the best way to deal with the problem peacefully, the Palace official mentioned.

“Kung makukuha natin sa diplomatic negotiations eh di lalong magaling. Hindi natin alam kung ano ang chances, but we’re doing it,” Panelo said.

The President’s spokesperson, meanwhile, urged the public to be extra cautious and careful after the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) found out that one of the suicide bombers in the Indanan, Sulu blast involved a Filipino.

“The usual na payo natin na mag-ingat. Anumang nakikita nilang hindi normal, ipaalam nila sa kaukulang awtoridad lalo na iyong nakikita nilang galaw na mapanganib para sa kanilang kalagayan,” Panelo said.

Although it is a cause of concern for the government, Panelo said vigilance and heightened security should always be undertaken to prevent this from happening.

“It’s a cause of our concern given that this is the first time that there is a Filipino suicide bomber. It goes against the grain of character of Filipinos – iyong magsusuicide ka because of terrorism,” Panelo said.

“The directive is always to enhance the technology in surveillance and intelligence work,” he added. PCO