|Shows at least six Chinese vessels remain at Julian Felipe Reef in the West Philippine Sea. (Photo from PCG / Released)|
[Asia News = Reporter Reakkana] MANILA: Vice President Leni Robredo said there is no need to wage war against China to defend the West Philippine Sea, stressing that Manila should use its victory against Beijing before an arbitral tribunal to build a “coalition of nations” that would protect the waters. “We don’t need to wage war. What we need to do is to enter into alliances with traditional and emerging partners, allies, so they can help us protect the West Philippine Sea,” Robredo, who is running for president, said in Filipino in an interview, PhilStar reported.
She said forging alliances by leveraging the 2016 arbitral ruling that invalidated China’s historical claim over much of the South China Sea, including portions within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, is a “low-hanging fruit.” Aside from this, the vice president said the Philippines can pursue multilateral talks with China and strengthen its defense. President Rodrigo Duterte has often warned that raising the Philippines’ arbitral win against China will result in a war between the two countries.
But maritime law expert Jay Batongbacal said in an episode of Philstar that the Philippines has the means to defend its sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea without waging war against China. These include having the government join fishermen so that they would not be harassed at sea.