ANTIPOLO City, June 23, 2011â€”The International Seafarersâ€™ Action Center (ISAC) asked the United States not to intervene with the Philippines-China row over the disputed Spratlys Islands, 150 miles off the coast of Palawan.
In a statement, ISAC secretary general Atty. Joseph T. Entero said that it is only the Philippine government, with the help of fellow Southeast Asian countries that can resolve the Spratlys issue.
â€œAs a nation and as Asians, it is us who are expected to solve our own problems. ISAC rejects involving the US and other military superpowers in the issue as it might be used by opportunistic elements to ignite a regional armed conflict, similar to what happened in Iraq and in the Middle East,â€ he said.
Meanwhile, Entero believes that multilateral talks, involving the nation-members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations(ASEAN), is better than the unilateral talks proposed by the Peopleâ€™s Republic of China (PROC) over the issue of the Spratlys ownership.
Entero explained that since Brunei Darussalam, Viet Nam and Malaysia also have their interest over the disputed islands, it is better for them to sit, talk and resolve the issue once and for all, not only for the peace and order in the region, but also for the safety of the mariners and seafarers sailing on the China sea.
â€œThe ASEAN needs to talk to China as one body and convince the PROC to respect Philippine sovereignty,â€ he said.
Nevertheless, ISAC urges the Chinese government to uphold the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, as well as the UN Convention on the Laws of the Sea, which China has ratified in 1996.
On the other hand, Entero commended the sending of BRP Rajah Humabon, only if it is done to assert the Philippine sovereignty over the troubled islands. Entero is one of the founding members of the Philippine Navy Board of Advisers.
Furthermore, the maritime labor lawyer also urged the Filipino people to be more united over the Spratlys issue and denounce in the highest possible terms, any attempts to undermine Philippine sovereignty and patrimony.
â€œIt is time to show how patriotic we are as a people and united as a nation. Nevertheless, we still need to be sober in dealing with critical matters such as this. A military conflict and an arms race in the region are the least that we should want to happen. Free and peaceful maritime access to this vital sea-lane should at all times be ensured,â€ the lawyer said. (Noel Sales Barcelona)