Presidential candidate and Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso said he does not consider Beijing as an “enemy” on the issue of the West Philippine Sea, but he maintained that the Chinese government should also respect our maritime claim.
“No. I do not consider them as enemies. I cannot blame (Chinese President) Xi Jinping for thinking that the West Philippine Sea is theirs,” Domagoso said in a television interview.
“But in the same manner, that kind of thinking, that kind of respect must be given to us. No, it’s also ours,” he added.
The WPS accounts roughly one third of Philippine water and hosts a wealth of the country’s coastal and marine resources from coral reefs, to fisheries resources, to energy and mineral resources, among others.
“In the meantime, we won in the Hague ruling and rules must be observed. Contracts and agreements must be recognized,” the 47-year-old presidential aspirant said.
China, which claims nearly all of the South China Sea, seized control of Panatag Shoal in 2012, prompting the Philippines to seek UN arbitration.
In July 2016, the Philippines won the arbitration case it lodged against China after the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, Netherlands invalidated Beijing’s nine-dash line claim that covers nearly the entire South China Sea.
Domagoso said aside from being fearless in defending the country’s sovereignty in the WPS by asserting the Hague Ruling, there is an urgent need to build the country’s capacity to protect its waters.
Investing and upgrading the country’s defense capabilities, according to Domagoso, will also be on top of his agenda if he wins the presidency.