Aquino makes a stand: 'Spratly Islands are ours'

In the most applauded part of his second State of the Nation Address, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III maintained Philippines' ownership of the West Philippine Sea, amid a diplomatic row with China.

“Ang sa Pilipinas ay sa Pilipinas; kapag tumapak ka sa Recto Bank, para ka na ring tumapak sa Recto Avenue,” he said.

“Wala tayong balak mang-away, pero kailangan ding mabatid ng mundo na handa tayong ipagtanggol ang atin,” Aquino added.

He said the government is now contemplating on bringing the West Philippine Sea case before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. This will be also be done to ensure restraint and peace will rule amid territorial disputes.

Aquino said that as the country maintains its right over the potentially oil-rich area, the government has started upgrading the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ defense.

“Ang sa Pilipinas ay sa Pilipinas; kapag tumapak ka sa Recto Bank, para ka na ring tumapak sa Recto Avenue,” - President Benigno Aquino III

“Parating na ang mga capability upgrade at modernization ng mga kagamitan ng ating Sandatahang Lakas. Literal na pong naglalakbay sa karagatan papunta rito ang kauna-unahan nating Hamilton Class Cutter, isang mas modernong barko na magagamit natin para mabantayan ang ating mga baybayin. Maaari pa po tayong makakuha ng mga barkong tulad nito,” Aquino said.

Aquino boasted the Philippines will also have new helicopters and patrol crafts, which will be purchased on wholesale.

“Lahat po ito, makakamtan sa matinong pamamahala; mabibili sa tamang presyo, nang walang kailangang ipadulas kung kani-kanino,” he added.

Apart from China and the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam also claim parts of the West Philippine Sea, also known as the "South China Sea."

In a separate interview minutes before the SONA, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas said the United States is fully supportive of Aquino.

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