MANILA (Mabuhay) – President Benigno Aquino III seemed to have found allies in the other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) after its leaders expressed concern over the alleged “dangerous brinkmanship” in the South China Sea.
“There were many leaders who were stating their concern… I’m not sure exactly who said it but something to the effect of… ‘hazardous brinkmanship’ or ‘dangerous brinkmanship’ – something to that effect,” Aquino told reporters on Sunday after the ASEAN Summit in Myanmar.
The President just arrived from attending the two-day ASEAN Summit in Myanmar. The ASEAN is a regional organization composed of the Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam.
The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei, Taiwan, and China have overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea.
During the Summit, Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung recounted how China was committing dangerous violations in disputed waters.
“[He] enumerated their problems currently, something in the level of 80 ships, planes et cetera… Thirty incidents so far of ramming,” he said.
Aquino said he also cited the country’s own experiences regarding Ayungin Shoal, Scarborough Shoal, the Kalayaan Island group, and the construction on Mabini Reef.
“I don’t think there’s any disagreement that… [the] series of incidents is a cause for worry and concern by all parties,” he said.
Asked whether the recently signed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the United States will help deter these incidents, he just said “at the very least, it will be a factor that [China] will have to consider.”
But he quickly noted there was consensus among the ASEAN leaders that the issue should be resolved peacefully.
“We did mention that consistent with everybody’s desire to resolve it in a peaceful manner, we did inform them officially of the March filing of the memorial before the arbitration tribunal under ITLOS,” he said. (MNS)