Shahani backs PNoy's 'strong words' vs China

Posted at 02/11/14 11:35 AM


MANILA - Former senator Leticia Ramos Shahani is backing the strong statements made by President Aquino in the territorial dispute with China.

A former chairman of the Senate committee on foreign relations, Shahani said Aquino is doing the right thing by standing his ground.

"I think the President has been right in making this strong pronouncement," she said.

Shahani noted Aquino did not agree that a consensus had been reached among ASEAN member states on how to deal with the territorial dispute over the South China Sea.

President Aquino has also warned China's efforts to claim disputed territories are like Nazi Germany's before World War II. Aquino was referring to the failure by Western nations to back Czechoslovakia when Adolf Hitler-led Nazi Germany occupied western parts of the European nation in 1938 ahead of World War II.

Shahani said Aquino's words show that the Philippines will not bow down to China's threats and will continue to assert the country's sovereignty on the disputed territories.

"I think we need these strong assertions from time to time because I think our bureaucratic and official replies are too namby pamby at times," she said.

"Let us not be balat sibuyas. Maybe as a professional diplomat, I think we have several styles of speaking. And we only have one style of speaking. We are so bureaucratic, we are so polite, so subservient sometimes with the Chinese when they are really eating up our territories. From time to time, we should bite like the President does. Then we begin the diplomatic, the nice, graceful, gentle way of speaking," she added.

Shahani said the country needs to know its priorities especially when it comes to claims over the West Philippine Sea. This is amid concerns that Aquino's words could affect trade relations with China as well as overseas Filipino workers in that country.

"The West Philippine Sea goes to the heart of our existence as a republic. If you have no national territory which will be eaten by your neighbor, if you have no sovereignty of your government from Batanes to Jolo, what is the use of the Republic of the Philippines? You can have have your overseas workers but first things first, yun ang importante. Those overseas workers may have no country at a certain point," she said.

She said the Philippines needs multi-dimensional vision and expertise in handling the country's territorial claims. She said it took the country nearly 20 years to draw a Baselines Law.

"The big shots in the maritime industry need to get together and help the President because in the end, the President is the number one diplomat of the country. Malacañang is where the buck stops on foreign policy," she added.

Beijing claims the South China Sea almost in its entirety, even areas a long way from its shoreline including portions claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. With Agence France-Presse