By Genalyn Kabiling
The government prefers to avoid antagonizing China despite concerns raised about its increased military buildup in the South China Sea.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said while the government has not given up its ownership of the West Philippine Sea, it has chosen to set aside “contentious issues” with China and focus on other areas of cooperation for now.
“Dalawa ang opsiyon natin: I-antagonize muli ang China or panindigan na hindi natin ipamimigay ang teritoryo.
Paninindigan natin ang ating karapatan diyan sa karagatan na kabahagi ng ating exclusive economic zone, pero at the same time, moving on with our bilateral relations,” Roque said during a Palace press briefing.
“Kahit ano pang mangyari diyan, walang teritoryong pamimigay, paninindigan natin ang karapatan at soberenya, pero we’ll move on issues that we can agree upon and set aside contentious issues for now,” he added.
The Philippine government earlier said it does not consider China a threat to national security but has expressed serious concern over the presence of its bomber aircraft in one of the islands of the South China Sea. Manila also renewed the call for non-militarization and self-restraint in the South China Sea to prevent the escalation of the territorial conflict.