Pangilinan warns against treaty dependence

June 15, 2011

Mario Casayuran
Manila Bulletin
June 16, 2011

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines, as a sovereign nation, must look out for itself and not to rely on other nations to protect its interests in the disputed Spratly Island chain in the South China sea, Sen Francis “Kiko’’ Pangilinan said Thursday.

Pangilinan, a former Senate Majority leader, issued this statement as he cautioned the Philippine government against being too complacent regarding the country’s “strong ties’’ with the United States.

“We should have no illusions about what the United States has to say about our strong ties,’’ Pangilinan said.

“In the final analysis, they are moved primarily by their interests and certainly not ours—and the same goes for China,’’ he stressed.

Pangilinan was reacting to a speech delivered earlier on Wednesday by US Ambassador to the Philippines, Harry Thomas, who said that the United States is “with the Philippines.”

Thomas was also quoted as assuring the Filipino people that the Philippines “and the United States are strategic treaty allies. We are partners. We will continue to consult and work with each other on issues, including the South China Sea and the Spratly Islands.”

“In the end, we will have to look out for ourselves. We would be fools to rely on other nations to protect our interests in the disputed territory,’’ he said.

China has territorial claims over the whole of the Spratlys while the Philippines claims a part of the island chain.

Other Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei and Taiwan also have territorial claims over parts of the Spratlys.

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