World Bulletin / News Desk
Philippine President Benigno Aquino refused to budge on Monday on a territorial dispute with China, asking Beijing to respect Manila's rights in the South China Sea and announcing plans to upgrade military capabilities.
Addressing a joint session of the Philippine Congress for the third time since his election in 2010, Aquino asked the Filipino people to unite behind his government's efforts to resolve the dispute peacefully.
"If someone enters your yard and told you he owns it, will you allow that?," Aquino said. "It's not right to give away what is rightfully ours. And so I ask for solidarity from our people regarding this issue. Let us speak with one voice."
The South China Sea has become Asia's biggest potential military flashpoint as Beijing's sovereignty claim over the huge area has set it against Vietnam and the Philippines, as the three countries race to tap possibly huge oil reserves believed to lie under the seabed.
Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have claims on parts of the sea.
The row was a central issue at an acrimonious Southeast Asian regional summit last week that ended with members failing to agree on a concluding statement for the first time in 45 years.
Aquino said the Philippines had shown restraint by pulling out its navy ship and replacing it with a civilian vessel when Chinese fishing boats entered Scarborough Shoal, which lies in the South China Sea about 124 nautical miles west of the main Philippine island of Luzon.
The Philippines insists it has sole jurisdiction over the uninhabited shoal because it lies within the country's 200 mile exclusive economic zone.
"It's not too much to ask the other side to respect our rights just as we respected their rights," Aquino said, adding that as the nation's leader, "I must uphold the law of the land."
NOT PICKING A FIGHT
Aquino also announced plans under a 75 billion-peso ($1.8 billion) military modernisation fund to acquire a refurbished frigate, C-130 planes, utility and combat helicopters, communication equipment, rifles and mortars.
"This is not about picking a fight. This is not about bullying. This is about attaining peace. This is about our capability to defend ourselves," he said.
Philippine defence and military officials say they are worried by China's "creeping imposition" of its claims in disputed areas in the South China Sea, a violation of an informal code of conduct adopted in Cambodia in 2002.
The two countries have faced off on a number of occasions in the disputed waters, and earlier in the year they were involved in a month-long standoff at Scarborough Shoal.
Last year, the Philippines scrambled aircraft and ships to the Reed Bank area after Chinese navy ships threatened to ram a Philippine survey vessel.
Beijing said last month it had begun "combat-ready" patrols in waters it said were under its control in the South China Sea, after saying it "vehemently opposed" a Vietnamese law asserting sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly islands.
The stakes have risen in the area as the U.S. military shifts its attention and resources back to Asia, emboldening its long-time ally the Philippines and former foe Vietnam to take a bolder stance against Beijing.
Hundreds have been injured in Kashmir and troops blocked worshipers from Friday prayers at large mosques for the 11th consecutive week
A fighter jet of Pakistan Air Force (PAF) crashed in Jamrud tehsil of Khyber Agency, spokesman said Saturday.
‘Captain Bram’ accused of masterminding attempt to smuggle 65 to New Zealand last year in boat intercepted by Australia
Turkish deputy minister says gathering an opportunity to express, share ideas at time when world needs unity and solidarity
Situation on the ground reached “equilibrium”, or “stalemate”, Army Gen. John Nicholson says
On Friday, an Ilyushin Il-76 military transport plane delivered the troops to Pakistan from their home base in southern Russia.
Military to continue fight against militants despite Moro rebel call for suspension during talks for hostages’ release
Deputy PM says if transferred, suspect in fatal 2003 Jakarta bombing to undergo deradicalization at Malaysian prison
Many in China are furious after a section of the Great wall was concreted over appearing to be an elevated pathway
India’s decade-long process to acquire new fighter jets is complete when the country signs a deal with France to buy 36 Rafale aircraft expected to be worth €8bn.
Trips arranged as part of Duterte administration’s plans to pursue independent foreign policy
The kingdom's Muslim-majority "deep south", an area bordering Malaysia, has seen near daily bombings and shootings since the most recent wave of rebellion erupted in 2004.
Trudeau confirms Canada exploring free trade agreement with China
US military reveals details of arrival in South Korea of dangerous aircraft, while Seoul ponders bold assassination attempt
‘They must also answer questions from me,’ Duterte says, challenging officials to public debate on his anti-drug campaign
Ny Chakrya accused court officials of corruption, claimed 2 villagers involved in land dispute were unjustly arrested