“BECAUSE China will not back down; we [Filipinos] are not in the position to fight them.”
This was how business leader Cecilio Pedro said Wednesday on the possibility of President Marcos Jr raising the West Philippine Sea dispute during his state visit to China next year.
Marcos is set to visit China from January 3 to 6, 2023, his first outside the ASEAN.
The West Philippine Sea dispute has been a decades-long clash between China and the Philippines, with China claiming the island as part of the mainland despite the Arbitral Tribunal ruling unanimously rejecting China’s maritime claims in the West Philippine Sea.
“Because China will not back down, we’re not in the position to fight them. Kung gusto ko, ayaw mo, ano? Ano gusto mo suntukan na lang tayo eh wala naman tayong laban sa suntukan eh,” said Pedro, vice president, Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc., in an exclusive interview with republicasia at the Kamuning Bakery Cafe.
The FFCCCII is among the business groups that will join the Philippine delegation to discuss business cooperation during the state visit.
“Tabi muna natin yan, pag-usapan natin anong tulong ang magagawa natin to each other, to help our country move forward,” he told republicasia.
Pedro said Filipinos should forget about the South China Sea issue for a while since “there is no resolution there” and instead talk about “what business can help the Philippines, what can help China.”
The business mogul likewise said the importance of Marcos’ state visit to China is “progress” since it’s what the Philippines and China need.
“It is not only the leadership that will make progress but all of us, all Filipinos, are involved in making the Philippines a better place to live in,” Pedro said.
On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, issued a ruling that backed the Philippines’ petition disputing Beijing’s purportedly historical ownership over the entire South China Sea.
Despite this, China has frequently disregarded the PCA judgment over the West Philippine Sea. In contrast, the Philippines has upheld its position that diplomatic discourse may resolve maritime troubles under the leadership of former President Rodrigo Duterte.
However, the struggle does not end there. China has consistently forged construction activities in the disputed waters and kept harassing Filipino fishermen roaming around the reclaimed islands.
Despite the fact that China has no right to the West Philippine Sea at all in accordance with international law, Beijing continues to assert its sovereignty over the area by using military power.