A Filipino activist wearing a clown mask at a rally outside the Chinese Consular Office in Manila yesterday. The protest was against the firing of water cannon on Filipino fishermen by Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea.
MANILA: Former senator Edgardo Angara backed yesterday the administration’s parallel arbitration and back-channelling efforts with China on the territorial conflict in the West Philippine Sea.
“All formulas ought to be exhausted,” he said.
“We don’t need leave any stone unturned. The price of neglect, worst inaction, is beyond estimation. We lost Sabah by default because all our experts were lost, even our documents.”
In a radio interview, Angara said the government can also pursue diplomatic and back-channelling efforts to solve the dispute with China, although it has filed an arbitration case before the United Nations.
“That is one way of handling the issue,” he said.
“The other way is through diplomatic means. The United States lauded us because of our foresight and resolve to file a case against a neighbouring country which violates a regulation of the international committee. Even the European Union is lauding us for our actions.”
Angara said the conflict in the West Philippine Sea is one of the big challenges facing the administration, and that the government must deal with the issue with a multipronged approach.
Angara said all options are open in the back-channelling route.
“In back-channelling, everything is on the table. That is why the potential for resolving and reaching an agreement is higher in back-channelling. What is important is that we don’t break off talks.”
Angara said most breakthroughs in conflicts in other countries like in Israel, Iran and the rest of the Middle East were achieved through back-channel efforts, along with legal and diplomatic efforts. “Even if it is informal, there is a protocol that needs to be followed so that it can be successful,” he said.
The Philippine Star