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Mar rejects talks with China on disputed islands

Administration candidate Mar Roxas has made his position clear with regards to the country’s territorial dispute with China: Bring the issue to the United Nations (UN).

“What China wants is through bilateral talks to resolve the issue. Excuse me, how can I talk with you when you already grabbed what belongs to me,” Roxas told the editors of the Manila Bulletin in a recent roundtable discussion.

“And even if I hit my head, they (China) will not voluntarily give up what they already occupied,” he added.

Roxas said the decision of the Philippines to bring the issue to the UN is the best measure available, noting that a multi-lateral third party like the UN tribunal is in the best position to settle the issue.

Earlier, a UN tribunal ruled that it has jurisdiction on the case filed by the Philippines against China, a decision that rejected the latter’s main argument.

The decision, experts said, has vindicated the position of President Aquino to stand firm in fighting for the territories now occupied by China.

Roxas explained that there is no effective way in fighting for the areas being claimed by the Philippines but through the legal and rules-based approach via an international tribunal.

“We are attempting to solve it by pursuing our claims in the UN. It’s not a question of being effective because what choice do we have? Can we fight China?,” he asked.

He then cited some factual basis about the military strength of China and the Philippines, emphasizing on the one million soldiers and modern military hardware of China.

The Philippines, on the other hand, is still on the initial steps of military modernization, with some of the planned or procured military hardware are yet to be delivered like 12 fighter jets from South Korea.

The modernization of the military, it was recalled, was aggressively pushed by the Aquino administration after the China-Philippine standoff at the Scarborough Shoal in 2011.

The initial agreement is for the two forces to withdraw from the area but China opted to stay after the Philippines withdrawal and did not leave the area since then.

The ensuing word war, the most popular was when Aquino likened China to Hitler, resulted in the more aggressive construction of China in some of the areas in the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea, including a reclamation that converted reefs to artificial islands. (Aaron Recuenco)