President Benigno Aquino III in his speech at the Los Angeles World Affairs Council in California said that the Philippines has no intention of challenging the military might of China.

After the two-day US-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, Aquino maintained that the only way to resolve the conflict in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) is through “legal and peaceful” means.

“Let me make it clear: We have zero ambitions in terms of arming ourselves with our own weapons of mass destruction, we have no plans of trying to come up with some sort of deterrents against the military might of that superpower. In other words, in the classic argument of guns versus butter, we would rather spend our limited resources on the butter side of that equation,” he said.

Even though he did not directly point out China, it is the only country subjected to the Philippines’ diplomatic complaint in relation to the maritime disputes in the West Philippine Sea.

“As for our region in Southeast Asia, we are also witnessing very aggressive actions by our big neighbor to our West and North, the world’s second-largest economy, and a nuclear power at that… Yet, like all nations, we need to defend our rights,” he said.

“That is why we have accessed the channels available to us to try and resolve the issue in a manner that is both legal and peaceful, in the belief that in law, everybody is equal,” Aquino pointed out.

“My nation has resolved to accept whatever decision the Arbitral Tribunal makes, and we are hopeful that our neighbor, who has constantly reiterated their respect for international law, will in time do the same,” he said.

“I, along with my people, am hoping for a favorable outcome as regards arbitration. But I also feel the need to point out that it is far too dangerous to be caught up in traditional ideas of victory and defeat. In our modern world, it is becoming more and more evident that the only true victory is the preservation and enhancement of global harmony, because while a shrinking world results in nations sharing problems, it also affords us the tools necessary to more actively work together in pursuit of our shared aspirations,” Aquino said in front of his audience composed of leaders in defense and trade.

“I, for one, still believe that there is no problem that can withstand global solidarity,” he said.

Meanwhile, President Barrack Obama also urges China to respect UN arbitration panel ruling on the West Philippine Sea.

“Any disputes between claimants must be resolved peacefully through legal means such as the upcoming arbitration ruling under the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas, which the parties are obligated to respect and abide by,” Obama said.

The Philippines is expecting the final ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in its case against China by May this year. -Ram Arciga

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