Philippines senator appeals to U.S., ASEAN

April 15, 2012 at 3:33 PM

MANILA, Philippines, April 15 (UPI) -- A key Philippine lawmaker urged the government to bring the United States into its dispute with China over its territorial waters.

Sen. Joker Arroyo urged President Benigno Aquino to take advantage of the Philippines' membership in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as it wrangles with Beijing over the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal.

"Now what is the use of the ASEAN?" Arroyo said Saturday. "We should have a diplomatic offensive. They have been meeting, but when one of the members are threatened, they have not even issued a stand."

The Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal hold valuable energy deposits and fishing grounds. They have become the subject of an increasing dispute between the Philippines and China.

The Philippine Star said Sunday that most Filipino officials and analysts see China as engaged in a blatant grab for territory.

Aquino said he doubted the United States would bring its military into the dispute but hoped Washington and ASEAN would at least take a formal stand backing the Philippines. "The Philippines should start talking with the Americans," he said.

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