Sen. Alan calls for balanced approach to territorial claims

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday called for a balanced approach to the Philippines’ territorial claims, saying while the country needs to protect what is ours, proper relations with neighboring countries must also be taken into account.

“We have to find a way of protecting what is ours, but also balancing the proper relations with our neighbors,” Cayetano said in his interpellation on Senate Bill No. 2492 or An Act Declaring the Maritime Zones Under the Jurisdiction of the Republic of the Philippines sponsored by Senator Francis Tolentino.

“Examine, re-examine…ano ang mas pabor sa atin. When I say kung ano ang mas pabor sa atin, kasama doon ang getting the consensus sa international community because pwede natin ipasa atin lahat y’un but it will spell out war to our neighbors,” he added.

Cayetano said the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) had suggested to the Duterte administration that the map of the Philippines be changed based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to which the country is a signatory.

He said Duterte decided “to let the maps be” because “to be not exact benefits us, so in the future, hindi bound ang ating kamay kung ano ang claim natin.”

He also questioned the effectiveness of the proposed law in strengthening the country’s claim and its impact in terms of the Treaty of Paris and the UNCLOS.

“I’m quite cautious in anything we pass whether or not it will actually strengthen our claims because we really need to look at every single view, front view, back view, bird’s eye view of this,” he said.

Senator Tolentino gave assurance that the entitlement bestowed by the UNCLOS will be strengthened and the Philippines must assert it through legislative action.

In response, Cayetano said lawmakers must maintain a consistent foreign policy agenda that balances the country’s interests while maintaining good relations with international neighbors.

“Pare-pareho tayong naninidigan to strengthen our claim. US is an ally. But iba ang interes nila sa interes natin,” he said, explaining that the problem is that international law is “up to interpretation.”

“Anything that strengthens our position is most welcome, because mabigat itong kailangan nating harapin,” he said.


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