President Benigno Aquino III does not see anything wrong on the reported plan of the US to have its naval ship traverse the West Philippine Sea.
During the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) forum Tuesday, Aquino said there was no formal announcement on the reported plan of the US to have the naval ship pass the disputed waters.
He, however, pointed out that “the position is, freedom of navigation has been expounded and propounded by all parties to the issues of the South China/West Philippine Sea.”
“So I see no issue as to this US naval ship traversing under international law in waters that should be free to be traveled upon by any non-belligerent country,” he said.
The Philippines has always supported and honored the freedom of navigation by being vocal against the construction of island-like features in the disputed waters through the filing of an arbitration case before a tribunal in The Netherlands.
“That, I think, is the support in general—not just to the American transiting of this body of water, but to the general principle that freedom of navigation should not be impeded, especially if we are after our people’s betterment,” he said.
The President said he is open to the presence of US troops in the area “so long as they conform to the norms dictated by international law.”
The situation should not create additional tension in the disputed waters “if there are no hostile intentions being alluded to by any party,” he added. -PNA/gov.ph, photo credit to source