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Isolate-China bid gains steam

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THE Philippines will urge all claimant countries to isolate China by declaring their own claims in the South China Sea as protected areas to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, an official said Friday.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and even Indonesia could declare portions of their islands as protected areas before the Unclos to prevent China from exploiting the contested South China Sea.

“We will declare our marine protected area, Vietnam will also declare, Malaysia will declare, Indonesia will declare and then China becomes isolated,” Carpio said in a recent forum.

He made his statement even as former President Fidel V. Ramos said Friday the Chinese government had expressed willingness to talk with the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to settle the territorial dispute in Scarborough Shoal between Manila and Beijing.

Ramos made his statement upon his arrival in Manila following his four-day visit to Hong Kong.     The 88-year-old former President and former Interior secretary Rafael Alunan arrived at the airport on board Philippine Airlines PR 319 around 4:15 p.m. Friday.

“This will happen soon,” Ramos said when asked when the formal talks between Beijing and Manila would take place. 

“For your information ladies and gentlemen, the friendly hospitable talk in Hong Kong happened in Victoria Peak.”

Carpio said earlier that the Philippines could file a new case to quantify the damage in its resources that are being exploited by China.

He said even the Permanent Court of Arbitration had strongly agreed that China had severely damaged the environment and that Beijing should pay for the damage it did on Spratly Islands.

“The Tribunal agreed and even expanded on that, and because of that we can file a new case before the Unclos tribunal to recover damages,” Carpio said.

He said Manila could file its case before the International Court of Justice.

In a separate interview, a Japanese source said the Japanese government had agreed to isolate China to prevent its continuing claim over the South and East China Seas.

The source, who requested anonymity, said although Japan wanted a peaceful means to resolve the territorial dispute, it would be wise if all claimant countries and other international communities supporting the case of the Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei would isolate China by being firm on the rule of law.

“The least we can do is isolate them [China],” the source said.

“And let them knownot just the neighboring countries, not just Japan and the Philippines and Vietnambut the rest of the International Community that they are actually supportive of us.”

The source said it would be better if the Philippines and other claimant countries did not show any weaknesses or any sign of compromise to prevent China from taking advantage of the situation.

“I think it would be important for the Philippines and the relevant countries to not show their weaknesses,” the source said. 

“As long as the countries involved stay firm, I think that would send a strong message to China. If you showed any sign of weakness, they will take advantage of that and this is something that they are watching.”

Former Foreign Affairs secretary Albert del Rosario has expressed concern over the degradation and destruction of the ecosystem in and around the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal.

“The lack of meaningful attention to this issue is a little surprising. As Filipinos living on an archipelago, the well-being of our surrounding seas is of vital importance to the country,” he said.


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