Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, who held backchannel talks with Chinese officials last year, said passing a resolution similar to the one approved by the US Senate’s foreign relations committee is “unnecessary” because the matter has already been brought to a United Nations (UN) arbitration tribunal.
“It [A resolution] will be redundant since our President, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, have already articulated our foreign policy on the matter,” Trillanes, who chairs the Senate national defense committee, said in a text message.
The US Senate passed on Monday a resolution listing several worrying Chinese behavior, including Beijing’s move to issue an official map defining the contested West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) as within its national border.
On Friday, China opposed the passing of the US Senate resolution, and announced that it has filed a formal complaint against the US for the action of its legislature.
Last January, the Philippines brought its territorial dispute with China before the UN tribunal, asking Beijing “to desist from unlawful activities that violate the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of the Philippines under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
China is asserting its historial claim on the entire West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). The Philippines, however, is claiming its ownership of some parts of the South China Sea–which it calls the West Philippine Sea–under the UNCLOS.
There are currently no resolutions pending before the Philippine Senate deploring Beijing’s actions at the West Philippine Sea, but the legislature passed last Congress resolutions supporting the arbitration case against China.
Senator Gregorio Honasan, a former military man, meanwhile said that passing a resolution similar to the one approved by the US Senate “will not make a difference, unless it is backed up by strategic, economic, political and military strength and leverage.”
Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, for his part, said that passing a resolution against China will involve a “tough balancing act” for the Philippine Senate, if it decides to follow the US Senate’s lead.
“We’ve always been concerned of two things: the territorial claims and our relationship with China… ‘Yung territorial dispute, that is only one aspect of the concern. We also trade, at may OFWs tayo roon. Those are also big concerns. Mabigat na pagbabalanse ang gagawin natin diyan,” Cayetano said in a separate press briefing. – VVP, GMA News