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Baselines bill proves Arroyo no sellout

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 13:55:00 02/20/2009

Filed Under: Spratlys, Government, Foreign affairs & international relations, Laws

MANILA, Philippines — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s resolve to sign the baselines bill into law should “silence” critics who accused her of selling out the country’s territory to China, Malacañang said on Friday.

Beijing had protested the passage of the bill, saying it violated China’s “indisputable sovereignty” over the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal, which, while excluded from Philippine territory in the measure, are defined as a “regime of islands under the Republic of the Philippines.”

Last year, opposition lawmakers accused Malacañang of softening the country’s claim to the Spratlys by entering into the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) with China and Vietnam.

The concession was allegedly in exchange for a multi-million-dollar loan package from China, including the controversial national broadband network (NBN) deal with Chinese firm ZTE Corp.

Arroyo scrapped the deal after the Senate opened an inquiry into allegations of bribery and overpricing to which First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, among others, had been linked.

“At the height of the NBN-ZTE scandal, the government was accused of selling out our territory to China because of the money or concessions that we got from China,” Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said.

“The fact that we are now passing this baselines bill should prove again that it is easy to hurl baseless and false accusations at government,” he said over radio station dwIZ.

The Palace has said Arroyo will sign the baselines bill as early as next week despite China’s protest.

Congress ratified the baselines bill Tuesday to beat the May 2009 deadline of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) for member-nations to define their territorial waters.

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Written by joelguinto

FriUTC2009-02-20T06:57:47+00:00UTC02bUTCFri, 20 Feb 2009 06:57:47 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am02

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