West Philippine Sea issues could be resolved in ‘peaceful way’ – AFP chief

For Armed Forces chief Lieutenant General Gilbert Gapay, the West Philippine Sea issues could be addressed in a “peaceful way,” Monday.

The military official said that the government forces would still follow the national government policy of diplomacy as the tension in the continues to increase.

“Siguro nakikita ng tao, we were not so much aggressive in really claiming what’s ours but it doesn’t mean we’re abandoning our claim on that, actually nandoon pa rin ‘yan and right now, we follow the government policy, national government policy of diplomacy and really settling the issue in a peaceful way,” Gapay said.

“Perhaps soon we will have the code of conduct being ratified by every member and every claimants in the area so nandoon pa rin, so ang effort natin ngayon is we maintain naval presence in the area, we are guarding and monitoring’ yung mga occupied,” he added.

Gapay assured the public that the security forces constantly monitors the area and secures the fishermen working in the region.

Further, he believes ASEAN nations are experiencing pressure to resolve the tension in the region.

Resolving issues in West Philippine Sea

“Actually we’re still in the peaceful and rules-based resolution ano, ito nga, both area, medyo nagkakagirian tayo doon, may show of more on the parties, but of course may pressure din on the part of the ASEAN nations to really stop ‘yung ganitong show of force on both countries and again revert back to the rules based and peaceful means of resolving ‘yung issues natin sa West Philippine Sea,” he said.

When Gapay became the AFP chief, he said the Duterte administration is implementing a “realistic and pragmatic approach” in addressing territorial issues in the disputed region.

Last week, Secretary Teodoro Locsin recommended terminating the contracts of Chinese businesspeople involved in the of structures and militarization in the West Philippine Sea.

This was after the United States blacklisted some individuals and businesses working in the South China Sea.

China is currently building various military structures and circling the West Philippine Sea even though it was awarded as an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Philippines in 2016.