News Release

Maritime law expert notes NMC position on Ayungin Shoal consistent with Philippines’ constitutional renounciation of war

A maritime law expert has declared that the statement of Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin on the latest incident in Ayungin Shoal is an affirmation of the government’s commitment of protecting peace and stability in the West Philippine Sea (WPS); and is consistent with the country’s constitutional renounciation of war as an instrument of national policy.

In a news forum in Quezon City on Saturday, University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea director Jay Batongbacal said it is important to avert war amid the tensions in the WPS.

“Since we have a mandate under the Constitution to renounce war as a means to national policy, our first recourse will always be to seek a diplomatic, a peaceful diplomatic solution,” Batongbacal said.

Batongbacal’s remarks was in reaction to the statement of the government with regard the latest incident in the Ayungin Shoal marred by Chinese provocations.

Earlier, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin described the incident as may be a result of a ‘misunderstanding or accident’ between the Philippine and Chinese sailors resulting to a skirmish that injured one Philippine Navy personnel.

In a press briefing yesterday, Bersamin, who heads the National Maritime Council, made no mention about recommending armed response but pushed for the continuation of the resupply missions to Ayungin shoal.

He stressed that announcements would be made before such missions are conducted.

Batongbacal said such a ‘minor’ skirmish in the latest incident can’t be a reason to call for a war.

“That is why, it is not easy for the Philippines to just simply react to every incident as if it is an act of war and warrants full scale hostilities. And I think it is in that context that we should now view developments over the past week, and particularly the statements issued by the government last night,” he said.

He also called on the Filipino people to remain calm amid the tensions in the WPS to ensure that the Philippines will pursue its interest peacefully and avoid a full scale, “or rather worst incidents” in the country.