Amid the escalating tension between Taipei and Manila over the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman by Philippine government personnel on May 9, the Philippines yesterday appeared to tone down its rhetoric as deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said that Manila has not ruled out a diplomatic solution to the row.
In response to a suggestion made by former Philippine representative Apolinario Lozada that Philippine President Benigno Aquino III send former president Fidel Ramos to Taiwan to mend ties with Taipei, Valte did not flatly reject the idea.
“That is something we have to discuss with the president because at this time the discussion was not brought up,” Valte said at a press conference yesterday.
Local media in Manila reported that Lozada suggested Aquino consider sending Ramos to Taipei as his special envoy.
“It will be a win-win solution. The former president, because of his stature, cannot be rejected by Taiwan and since he is already a private citizen, we will not be violating the ‘one China’ policy,” Lozada was quoted as saying.
Aquino sent Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) Chairman Amadeo Perez as his personal representative to Taipei earlier this week, but he was denied a meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) because he did not bring a positive response to the four demands Taipei has made of Manila.
At the press conference, Valte was asked to comment on remarks by Lozada that “Taiwan saw an opportunity to push for recognition as a country instead of just an economic state. Taiwan is pushing for us to violate the ‘one China’ policy.”
Valte declined to comment on the observation.
“We have appealed for calm and we do not wish to have any escalation [in] the situation,” she said.
Taiwan has enacted 11 sanctions against the Philippines because it says Manila has not shown sufficient sincerity in its responses to Taipei.
Asked to comment on the situation, Valte reiterated the Philippine government’s view that “we have done enough. We have gone extra miles.”
The government is now focused on looking at the sanctions, preparing contingency plans and, at the same time, avoiding actions that would escalate tensions, she said.
“We will not foreclose any other actions that can be done in the future. Again, I repeat, we will not foreclose any possible actions or any possible steps that may be taken,” she said.
Asked if the Philippine government saw Taiwan’s military exercise in the waters where the incident took place in the overlapping exclusive economic zones of Taiwan and the Philippines on Thursday as “provocation,” Valte dismissed that concern.
“As a matter of rule, as long as the activity is within their borders or in the high seas, then it should not be a concern for us,” Valte said.
The Philippine government is not closing the door on other diplomatic means to deal with the situation and that it will “avoid action” that will escalate tensions and “not let the exchanges that we have [with Taiwan] deteriorate,” she said.