Presidential candidates in Philippines weigh in on China dispute

In this picture taken on November 11, 2021, Philippine Senator Manny Pacquiao gestures during an interview with AFP at his residence in Manila. Philippines presidential hopeful Manny Pacquiao is also a boxing legend having won many international world titles. - AFP

MANILA, Dec 23 (Bloomberg): Four presidential aspirants in the Philippines had varying strategies to resolve disputes in the South China Sea including through building alliances with other nations and boosting military presence in the region, according to interviews with GMA News.

The candidates - Vice President Leni Robredo, Senators Panfilo Lacson and Manny Pacquiao, and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno -- participated in interviews with GMA’s Jessica Soho which aired late Saturday. Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who led last month’s presidential preference survey, declined to join.

"Our court victory should be our leverage,” Robredo said. She said a coalition of nations could be formed against China’s militarization of the disputed sea, banking on the 2016 ruling of the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration which rejected China’s nine-dash claim.

Lacson said the Philippines should strengthen alliances with the US, the European Union, Japan, Australia and other countries with strong militaries.

Pacquiao said the Philippines shouldn’t allow itself to be bullied by China and sought more discussions on the issue, while Moreno pointed out the need to bolster the country’s military presence in the South China Sea.

The four presidential candidates, competing in the elections scheduled for May 9, all said they’re in favor of joint exploration in the South China Sea, with Robredo clarifying that her stance is premised on all parties’ recognition of the arbitral ruling. - Bloomberg

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Philippines , Presidential , Hopefuls , China , Issue


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