Cooperation with Asean members needed for PH to resolve sea row with China

Apr. 10, 2019

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate (right) thinks that the Philippines must use the alliance it has with other Southeast Asian countries to stop Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea during a press conference on Tuesday, April 9. (Jigger J. Jerusalem/

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — The country must assert its own claim to ownership of the contested territory in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) but it has to seek the help of other nations in the region so it could have a bigger voice against the aggressive actions of an Asian superpower, a militant lawmaker said Tuesday.

Since the Philippines cannot afford to go to war with China, despite the blatant aggression it has displayed when it occupied and built structures on some parts of the WPS, its best choice of action is to rally the members of the Association Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), especially those who are involved in the territorial dispute, to pressure the superpower into cooperating and resolving the multinational issue, said Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate during a press conference.

Among the Asean member-nations who, like the Philippines, are claiming some portions of the disputed maritime area as their own, are Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan.

“We can rally our neighbors who also have the same claims there (WPS), and engage China in a multilateral manner so that the proposed code of conduct in the West Philippine Sea could be realized,” Zarate said.

He said the diplomatic approach is more effective because the Philippine lacks the capability and capacity to wage war with China.

The congressman has also slammed the administration of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte for what he called as having a “chopsuey foreign policy” for the government’s dealings with the United States, China, and even Russia.

Zarate said Duterte should push for an independent foreign policy, a promise he made during the campaign in 2016, rather than serving at the pleasure of the powerful nations.

“We can deal with other countries on equal footing and we must see to it that our rights are not trampled on,” he added.

He said Bayan Muna and other militant groups threw their support to Duterte when he ran in 2016 because of that campaign promise. (

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