From the Manila Standard Today (Apr 27): UK backs PH in sea row
THE United Kingdom is ready to stand firm if security in the South China Sea, where 90 percent of its energy and mineral resources pass, is threatened and will remain a friend of the Philippines “in fair weather and in turbulent times,” according British Ambassador Asif Ahmad.
“We believe in a rules-based world covering critical issues of security, commerce and transportation. We have shared values, we must be ready to speak out when these are threatened...not on a tactical basis... but based on principles,” Ahmad said at a reception for Queen Elizabeth’s 88th birthday.
“We care and we want to make a difference. Great Britain, with its economic strength, our role in the UN, the Commonwealth and the European Union... is a country that believes in freedom, human rights and justice. We are nation that cares about the world we live in,” he said.
“We are here as a friend of the Philippines. We are with you in fair weather and in turbulent times,” he added.
Ahmad said the UK supports Manila on its rules-based approach in solving the ongoing dispute with China and most of the international community also want a United Nations ruling on the sovereignty disputes in the South China Sea.
“If I will judge the mood of the international community, most of them feel the same way. They don’t want an escalation or any difficulty. They would like a ruling from the UN which makes it all very clear,” Ahmad said.
“What the international community wants is to use the rules-based approach, to have it resolved,” the envoy said, adding that all countries under the UN system are required to follow rules “which are clear to everybody.”
Highlighting Britains’ ties with the Philippines, Ahmad said the friendship was embedded more than 250 years ago when the British left Manila in 1764.
As a result of the Seven Years War, Britain invaded Manila in September 1762 and took possession of Manila for two years until the conclusion of the war. The British returned Manila to the Spanish in April 1764.
“Ang relasyon ng ating mga bansa ay nakatatak na sa kasaysayan. Ang Abril ay isang importanteng buwan. Ito ay ang ika-250 anibersaryo ng pag-alis ng mga British sa Pilipinas (The relationship of our countries is embedded in our history. April is an important month. It is the 250th anniversary of Britain’s departure from the Philippines),” said Ahmad who studied Filipino in London.
Ahmad joked that had the British decided to stay in the Philippines, Filipinos today would be driving left instead of right, enamoured with football instead of basketball and “meron na rin kayong tunay na British accent (you would have a real British accent).”
But in the end, Ahmad said “pinakamabuti ang may autonomiya at mas mahalaga pa rin ang kalayaan ang Republika ng Pilipinas (autonomy was the best course and the freedom of the Republic of the Philippines was more important).”