Wed. Jun 23rd, 2021

Long-standing disputes between the Philippines and China in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) can only be addressed through negotiations, a political analyst said Wednesday.

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Ramon Casiple, vice president of Novo Trends PH, backed President Rodrigo Duterte’s firm stance that the Philippines cannot afford to go to war with China over disputes in the highly-contested WPS or South China Sea (SCS).

“Whether bilaterally or multilaterally, we need to negotiate because we cannot afford war. We do not have capability for that,” Casiple said during the virtual Pandesal Forum.

Casiple said it is the “proper time” to resolve the maritime row with China through a non-adversarial approach.

He also acknowledged that the Philippines needs to have “many countries on our side” to protect the country’s interest in WPS.

He added that the Philippines should have a “unified” stand on WPS issue.

“South China Sea is a national [or] public issue,” Casiple said. “From that perspective, we need to have a unified position if we can as a nation… I don’t think its proper for Filipinos to debate.”

Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo on Sunday urged Duterte to initiate multilateral talks to gain support from other countries rather than continue bilateral talks with China to settle WPS row.

However, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Tuesday rejected Robredo’s proposal, saying Duterte’s independent foreign policy is “correct and working.”

Casiple agreed, as he noticed “smooth relations” with other countries amid the implementation of Duterte’s foreign policy.

“It (Duterte’s independent foreign policy) is not meant to produce results immediately,” he said. “But we get something. That is, we are able to negotiate on specific issues.”Former Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile, during a meeting with Duterte on May 17, advised the chief executive to remain “friendly” with China. SOVEREIGNPH

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