While most of the senators are calling for a peaceful resolution, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said the Philippines must be prepared for a possible war with China.
“That is already an indication that China is grabbing the place from us. Nagiging grabber na ang China,” Enrile said, commenting on the rising number of Chinese vessels in the disputed Panatag shoal.
“We must prepare. We better buy war equipment. We better buy our weapons, our means of defense,” Enrile told reporters.
But in a separate interview, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said the Philippines has no capability to wage war.
Trillanes pointed out that the law which was supposed to ensure military modernization has failed due to corruption.
Some senators meanwhile urged the government to refrain from aggravating the tension with China.
Senators Trillanes, Loren Legarda, and Manny Villar said although it is clear that Scarborough belongs to the Philippines, the standoff should be resolved through diplomatic means.
“Hindi na kailangang palalain ang away sa China. Tumahimik na lang muna tayo. Hindi naman pagkaduwag iyon. Maliwanag na atin iyang Scarborough. Ito ay talagang sa diplomasya lang natin mareresolba,” Villar told reporters.
Legarda also urged both countries to “focus on what builds, not on what destroys” as any act of violence would only compromise peace and security in the region.
“Scarborough Shoal clearly belongs to the Philippines as it is within the 200 miles exclusive economic zone of the country and the Philippines has exercised effective jurisdiction and effective occupation over the area,” added Legarda, head of the Senate committee on Foreign Relations.
The standoff started when Chinese ships blocked a Philippine navy crew from arresting Chinese fishermen who were spotted taking marine species.
Based on its historical map, China claims sovereignty over the Panatag Shoal, which it refers to as Huangyan Island.
Nevertheless, Legarda said the current dispute over Scarborough Shoal will not affect the bilateral relations between the two countries.