Aquino urges Philippines to unite on China

Philippine President Benigno Aquino urged all Filipinos on Monday to unite in sending a message to China over a territorial row, insisting his country would not give in to its more powerful neighbour.

In his annual "state of the nation" address to parliament, Aquino said his government had shown goodwill and forbearance in handling the months-long dispute over competing claims to parts of the South China Sea.

"I ask for solidarity from our people regarding this issue. Let us speak with one voice. Help me relay to the other side the logic of our stand," Aquino said.

"If someone entered your yard and told you he owned it, would you agree? Would it be right to give away that which is rightfully ours?"

Aquino recalled how the row began in April when Chinese government ships blocked Philippine boats from arresting Chinese fishermen in Scarborough Shoal, an outcropping claimed by both countries in the South China Sea.

He said the Philippines had since ignored the Chinese state-run media's "harangues" over the issue.

"I do not think it is excessive to ask that our rights be respected, just as we respect their rights as a fellow nation in a world that we share," Aquino said.

China claims sovereignty over nearly all of the sea, which is believed to hold vast amounts of oil and gas, is one of the region's most important fishing grounds and is home to shipping lanes that are vital to global trade.

The Philippines, as well as Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan, also claim parts of the sea, making the area one of the region's potential military flashpoints.

The Philippines and Vietnam have complained over the past year that China has becoming increasingly aggressive in staking its claims to the area.

Aquino said the Philippines was looking to find a resolution that was "acceptable to all", and made no threats.

However, in a separate part of his 90-minute speech, he also stressed he was pushing through with the modernisation of the Philippine military, one of the most poorly equipped in Asia.

He said his government had allocated 28 billion pesos ($67 million) for military modernisation to acquire new hardware and repair old equipment, with new helicopters and a frigate due to arrive next year.

And he said the government was planning to spend 75 billion pesos on defence over the next five years.

A large part of Aquino's speech was devoted to the economic reforms he said had been achieved since his administration took over from his graft-tainted predecessor, Gloria Arroyo, in June, 2010.

Aquino cited as evidence economic growth of 6.4 percent for the Philippines in the first quarter of the year, one of the best in the region, as well as repeated credit ratings upgrades from international agencies.

He said his government had given millions of poor Filipinos greater access to health and education services, and that the unemployment rate had dropped from 8.0 percent in 2010 to 6.9 percent this year.

Aquino said the economic progress had been made possible because of efforts to tackle corruption that he alleged had infected all parts of government during the nearly 10 years that Arroyo was in power.

"Now, with a level playing field, and clear and consistent rules, confidence in our economy is growing," he said.

Aquino made repeated references to the plight of the nation under his predecessor, describing the Philippines then as a "rotten state", and vowing again to ensure those involved in corruption would be punished.

Arroyo has been one of his chief targets, and she is now in detention awaiting trial on vote fraud and corruption charges.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Catholics organize to promote pope's climate change message

    NEW YORK (AP) — There will be prayer vigils and pilgrimages, policy briefings and seminars, and sermons in parishes from the U.S. to the Philippines. …

  • Forgotten for decades, fallen NY soldier finally honored
    Forgotten for decades, fallen NY soldier finally honored

    ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Carroll Heath didn't have it easy growing up in the Great Depression. His father wasn't around, his mother was a patient in a mental hospital and he kept largely to himself. Soon after graduating high school, he enlisted in the Army and wound up in the Philippines, where he's believed to have died sometime in 1942. …

  • APEC ministers to endorse Boracay Action Agenda
    APEC ministers to endorse Boracay Action Agenda

    Trade ministers at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Boracay, Aklan agreed yesterday to endorse the proposed Boracay Action Agenda to the member countries’ leaders, presenting opportunities for global trade for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). In a press conference following the conclusion of the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, who also served as chairman, said ministers agreed to recommend the adoption of the …

  • Talks with China over sea row urged
    Talks with China over sea row urged

    The Philippines should engage China in bilateral talks in its efforts to maintain peace and order at the disputed West Philippine Sea, Sen. Francis Escudero said yesterday. Escudero supports the government’s move to bring the issue before international arbitration but also stressed the need for the Philippines to pursue talks with China. Escudero made the statement after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Friday called for a peaceful solution to territorial disputes in the South China Sea. …

  • House panel tackles bill on regular disaster drills
    House panel tackles bill on regular disaster drills

    The House committee on national defense is deliberating on a measure mandating the regular conduct of disaster risk reduction drills in educational institutions nationwide. Authored by Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., the bill mandates that risk reduction drills be held annually in all educational institutions throughout the country in coordination with the schools’ respective local government units. “The Philippines’ location along the Pacific Ring of Fire and close to the equator …

  • PCSO running out of funds
    PCSO running out of funds

    Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) chairman Ireneo Maliksi has admitted that the revenue-generating agency is running out of funds as it continues with its mandate to provide financial assistance to indigent Filipinos. Aside from providing financial help to individual recipients, Maliksi cited at least 13 laws that mandates the PCSO to provide mandatory contribution to different government agencies. Just last week, PCSO released P100 million to the Commission on Higher Education as …

  • Cops receive mid-year bonus
    Cops receive mid-year bonus

    Active duty uniformed and non-uniformed personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP)have received their mid-year bonuses. The PNP has released P1.9 billion for the mid-year bonus of the 155,000 active duty uniformed and non-uniformed personnel. The Directorate for Comptrollership released P1,933,664,893.50 through the Finance Service and subsequently credited to the individual ATM payroll accounts of active duty uniformed and non-uniformed personnel. …

  • APEC trade chiefs vow to speed up work in WTO

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Trade ministers from 21 Asia-Pacific countries on Sunday issued strong support to the World Trade Organization's efforts to boost global trade amid a flurry of regional free trade agreements. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options