Poe won’t encourage arms race with China

It's an exercise in futility, presidential aspirant Sen. Grace Poe yesterday said, on the issue of the Philippines engaging in an arms race with China.

"Definitely I am not advocating an arms race. For a country like ours, that would be an exercise that would be useless," she said to reporters after holding a campaign sortie here, while maintaining the need to strengthen the military capability of the country in the light of the growing tension in the South China Sea over territorial claims.

"What I am advocating is for our country to be also prepared and have the necessary equipment, in case there is a necessity for it. I always say we need to maintain relations with the international community, China included, and there are aspects apart from arbitration," Poe said.

The senator underscored the fact that there remains economic, education and cultural ties with China that can still be harnessed without having to being remiss in the strengthening of the country's military force.

"That is our obligation, to be able to defend our sovereignty," she said.

Poe noted the move taken by President Aquino in having the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) equipped with fighter jets as this is needed in enhanced the capability of the military in protecting internal as well as external defense mechanisms.

The senator, however, admitted that she's open to the idea of accommodating support from members of the international communities, especially ally countries like Japan through grants of development projects.

"We thank Japan for the development projects it has been giving the Philippines. A lot of the studies we implement and consider are from JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) studies and I think this partnership should be encouraged, not just with Japan but with other countries as well, who are willing to help the Philippines. Our foreign policy would always be in accordance to our constitution, that is maintaining national integrity, as well as sovereignty. And because of that we would be able to comply with the Constitution even if it means, also empowering our own military," she said.

On the matter of continuing the policy adopted by the Aquino administration in the South China Sea, Poe said the her administration will be more accommodating when it comes to dialogues with other countries.

"I think it is important to maintain good relations with China. And as president that is also going to be one of my priorities. We are neighbors after all. We don't see eye to eye on certain issues but I think it would be for the benefit of the region for us to all to get along," she said.

As such, it doesn't mean that she will abandon that ongoing arbitration on the matter and Poe is hoping that the arbitration tribunal will come up with its decision soon.

"As president, I would always, promote the welfare of my countrymen. First and foremost, and if it means bridging gaps between the two countries, I will do it," she said.

Source: Tribune