Enrile urges China to present Scarborough Shoal case before international tribunal

April 24, 2012 9:51 pm 

By Jelly F. Musico

MANILA, April 24 -– Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has encouraged China to accept the proposal of the Philippines to settle the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal dispute before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Seas (ITLOS) if China has legitimate claim on the area.

”If they (China) have evidence, then present it and let the law of nations know their claim,” Enrile said in a media interview after delivering his message during the commencement of the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law on Monday night.

Enrile said the Philippines has evidence that the Scarborough Shoal is part of its territory.

”Even the European powers recognized that fact. We have an even chance of making a good case,” the veteran lawmaker said.

The Philippines has already declared it will “unilaterally” seek ITLOS’s intervention even if China will not agree to bring the territorial dispute before the United Nations-backed tribunal, a move supported by the Senate President.

”That’s a good decision. We cannot match China, our only weapon is diplomacy. I think the strategy that we adopted is a good one and show to the world that we are a peaceful country,” Enrile said.

He said “it doesn’t matter” if China will disagree for as long as the Philippines would use diplomatic solution to the Scarborough standoff.

The Senate President is also in favor of discussing the Scarborough Shoal dispute with the United States “because Washington is our ally and we have mutual defense treaty.”

The Scarborough impasse started last April 8 when a Philippine Navy surveillance plane sighted eight Chinese fishing boats anchored off Scarborough, prompting the Navy to deploy warship BRP Gregorio del Pilar which was recently acquired from the U.S.

The Chinese surveillance vessels prevented the Philippine Navy from arresting the fishermen inside the fishing vessels reportedly loaded with corals, giant clam shells and live baby sharks. (PNA) DCT/scs/jfm

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