Phl President vows to defend Spratly territory against invaders
In his second state of the nation address (Sona), Philippine President Noynoy Aquino vowed to defend the country's claims on the island territories in the disputed Spratly Islands.
In a widely applauded speech, Aquino said the Philippines is building its naval capability by acquiring more equipment and weapons for the military establishment to defend the country's borders.
The Philippines is bringing its claim on its occupied territories and surrounding areas to the United Nations for resolution but China protested saying the issue must be settled through bilateral talks.
"We do not wish to increase tensions with anyone, but we must let the world know that we are ready to protect what is ours," Aquino said
, drawing loud applause at the packed House of Representatives. The address also was televised live to the nation.
Aquino did not mention China in his speech but he was obviously referring to it as the aggressor in the disputed Spratly Islands claims.
China and several countries in Southeast Asia have existing claims over the disputed islands with China claiming ownership of the entire disputed territory including the Philippine occupied islands.
Last week a group of Philippine legislators have visited one of the Philippine-occupied islands in a symbolic act to assert Philippine sovereignty over the territory.
Led by Congressman Walden Bello, the delegation raised a new Philippine flag over Pagasa, a Philippine-occupied island.
“We come in peace, we support a diplomatic solution. But let there be no doubt in anybody’s mind, in any foreign powers’ mind that if they dare to eject us from Pagasa, Filipinos will not take that sitting down. Filipinos are born to resist aggression. Filipinos are willing to die for their soil,”Rep. Bello said
China, Vietnam and the Philippines are currently embroiled in a diplomatic confrontation on territorial claims in the disputed islands.
Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei are minor claimants in the Spratly group of islands.
The disputed Spratley Islands are believed to be reach in mineral deposits including gas and oil and a strategic international sea lane for transport of goods and services.