Aside from a long list of accomplishments, his support for the Philippines’ claim on the West Philippine Sea is the main reason why the Marianas chapter of the U.S. Pinoys for Good Governance is supporting the tandem of Mar Roxas and Leni Robredo in next year’s Philippine national elections.
USPGG Marianas chapter chair Dr. Celia Lamkin said only Roxas among the three other presidential candidates expressed support for the Philippines’ claim on the disputed Scarborough Shoal and Spratlys group of islands.
China is claiming the group of tiny islands that number in the hundreds is part of their territory. China’s military presence in the region has intensified in the last five years, building airstrips, military bases, and artificial islands.
The West Philippine Sea is rich in marine life and is believed to have a huge deposit of oil and other gas that could amount to billions of dollars.
“Mar Roxas has expressed support to the West Philippine Sea when he visited the fisher folks at Masinloc in Zambales. He said that Scarborough Shoal or Bajo Masinloc is ours, which is part of the West Philippine Sea,” said Lamkin in an email to Saipan Tribune.
Scarborough Shoal is just 123 miles (198 kilometers) west of Subic Bay, with the municipality of Palauig in Zambales province in the island of Luzon the nearest landmass.
China stands firm on their claim and said that it will not enter into talks with the Philippines unless it acknowledges the nine-dash line rule in the South China Sea that includes the West Philippine Sea where Scarborough and Spratlys are located.
Lamkin said that Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Vice President Jejomar Binay, and Sen. Grace Poe—the three others who are eyeing the presidential seat—have other views in settling the dispute with China.
Duterte and Binay want to enter into bilateral talks to China while Poe doesn’t want the United States to interfere in the dispute.
“Duterte said we could not go to war against China because we are not equipped militarily while VP Binay said we don’t have the financial resources. So we just talk with them,” said Lamkin.
She added that Poe’s plan of no U.S. intervention is impossible since, without the Philippines’ key ally, China will continue its expansion in the disputed region.
“President Obama’s message to China in the [Asia Pacific Economic Conference summit this year], is for China to stop its militarization and construction in the West Philippine Sea,” said Lamkin.