VP Binay: the Philippine government must protect the country’s interests against China

Map of the Spratly Islands.Vice President Jejomar C. Binay remains optimistic that the issue involving the Spratly Islands will not strain relations between Philippines and China, but stressed that the Philippine government must protect the country’s interests.

“Di naman dapat maging cause ng conflict ang Spratlys, pero di rin naman dapat tayo magpabaya sa ginagawa ng China,” Binay said in an interview upon his arrival from the United States for a two-week educational program on housing finance.

The Philippine Navy recently dispatched its biggest battleship to patrol over territorial waters around Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

BRP (Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas) Rajah Humabon was deployed after China sent its largest maritime patrol ship which is reportedly passing the disputed areas of Paracel and the Spratly island groups.

The Vice President said the Philippine government’s decision to send the Humabon was only to protect the interest of the country. However, he noted that the Spratlys issue could be settled in a peaceful manner.

“Sa palagay ko naman, mapag-uusapan ito at hindi naman hahantong sa hindi mabuting relasyon ng Pilipinas at China. Nag-uusap-usap naman ang mga pamahalaan d’yan,” Binay said.

Earlier this May, Vice Chairman Jiang Shusheng of the Standing Committee of the 11th National People’s Congress of the People's Republic of China expressed support to President Benigno Aquino’s call to settle the issue diplomatically.

During a courtesy visit at the Office of the Vice President, Jiang said Philippines and China should maintain a “friendly atmosphere” in handling the situation, keeping in mind the relationship between the two countries.

Asked if Filipino and Fil-Am communities in the US are alarmed over the tension in Spratlys, Binay said they are more concerned about the passage of the Save Our Industries Act in the US Congress.

The Act will allow the duty-free export into the US of apparel products made in the Philippines from US fabrics and is seen to revive the $2-billion clothing industry that employed at least 600,000 Filipino workers.

Meanwhile, Binay noted the US government’s declaration of support to the Philippines regarding the Spratlys issue.

“Sabi nila, kami ay tutulong. Kaya lang walang binigay na specifics. Para bang, bahala na kayo mag-interpret. Basta, kami ay tutulong. Hindi namin iiwanan ang Pilipinas,” he said.