ASEAN members can help protect West Philippine Sea – FVR

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 23 Oct) – Former president Fidel V. Ramos said Wednesday that the member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are in the best position to protect the disputed waters of the West Philippine Sea, the name now used to refer to parts of the South China Sea that are within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

Speaking at Wednesday’s launch of the BIMP-EAGA IMT-GT Trade Fair and Business Leaders Conference at the SMX Convention Center here, Ramos said the ASEAN should provide a common task force that would protect travelers and enforce the law of the sea.

The naval task force, he added, would help in the response to climate change events, in case a massive event happens.

The former president added that the Philippines, as a sister-neighbor of countries like China, expected to be treated the way people treat their family members.

“If you read the policy statement of the different presidents of the People’s Republic of China, they keep talking about a ‘one Asia and a one family’,” Ramos said.

“We should demand to be treated like such,” he said.

Ramos, who was also a prominent military leader before his presidency, said countries like the Philippines are preparing to defend themselves the wrong way.

He said countries should stop the arms buildup in their regions.

“You cannot maintain helicopters because the parts for those are only available abroad,” Ramos said, insisting that the common task force should instead take care of defending territories affected by aggressive nations.

FVR said he was wary of another war coming and said nobody wanted it.

What countries have to fight instead, he stressed, are poverty, terrorism, as well as health issues such as ebola, malaria and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).