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Legarda on Scarborough Issue: Let’s Focus on What Builds, Not on What Destroys

May 10, 2012

OPTIMISTIC THAT THE ONGOING DISPUTE BETWEEN THE PHILIPPINES AND THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA (PROC) OVER SCARBOROUGH SHOAL WILL BE RESOLVED PEACEFULLY, SENATOR LOREN LEGARDA TODAY ENJOINED BOTH COUNTRIES TO “FOCUS ON WHAT BUILDS, NOT ON WHAT DESTROYS.”
Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said that it is not to the interest of both nations to engage in a shooting war or in any form of violence, especially that such actions would compromise peace and security in the region.
While she stressed that the Scarborough Shoal clearly belongs to the Philippines as it is within the 200 miles exclusive economic zone of the country and the Philippines has exercised effective jurisdiction and effective occupation over the area, the Senator said the dispute can be solved diplomatically.
“I am certain that both countries will solve this issue in a peaceful manner. There is a Code of Conduct that has been agreed upon by both nations and we must observe that. There’s no reason for us to fight each other. Let us focus on the issues that build, instead of the concerns that destroy. There is so much commonality, than the issues that we differ in,” she pointed out.
“We must concentrate on areas that unite us, instead of issues that divide us. Commerce, trade, investments, culture, education, combating climate change—these are concerns that China and the Philippines, and all of us in the Asia Pacific, should focus on,” Legarda stressed.
The Senator also said that the current dispute over Scarborough Shoal will not affect the bilateral relations between the two countries, noting that the Philippine Senate has recently approved two agreements with PROC—the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) and the Consular Agreement.
“I will do my best to make sure that this will not affect our robust bilateral relationship with a country whose culture and history means a lot to the Filipinos. We are committed to a peaceful dialogue utilizing every legal, diplomatic means to resolve the dispute,” Legarda concluded.