Palace ready to defend claim on Spratlys
By Joel Guinto
First Posted 14:52:00 03/12/2009
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang said it is ready to defend the country’s claim on the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal after China protested President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s signing of the Baselines Law.
Beijing called “illegal” the provision in the law classifying Scarborough Shoal and the Kalayaan group of islands as a “regimes of islands under the Republic of the Philippines.”
“We are prepared to respond to any legal action, whatever it is, that the other claimant countries will put up,” Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita told reporters at the Palace.
Deputy presidential spokesman Anthony Golez said Malacañang was “taking note” of China’s protest.
Ermita said the protest could be resolved through the Code of Conduct signed by China and other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that are claiming the Spratlys — Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei.
A sixth claimant, Taiwan, is not a signatory to the code.
Ermita said China could also forward its protest to the United Nations.
“There is an agreement, a code of conduct [for claimant] countries to negotiate and do this through diplomatic channels, so that there will be no instability in the area,” he said.
Ermita said the government was “standing by” its claim on the Spratlys, pursuant to a presidential decree by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who declared it the municipality of Kalayaan.
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