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In 3rd SONA, Aquino asks China to respect PHL’s sovereignty

In his third State of the Nation Address, President Benigno Aquino III on Monday asked China to respect Philippine sovereignty, even as he asserted the country's rights over the disputed Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal. With Chinese Ambassador to Manila Ma Keqing in the audience, Aquino said his administration will handle the territorial dispute with China "with utmost calm," but asked the Chinese government not to infringe Philippine territory. “Hindi naman po siguro kalabisan na hilingin sa kabilang panig na galangin ang ating karapatan, gaya ng paggalang natin sa kanilang mga karapatan bilang kapwa bansang nasa iisang mundong kailangang pagsaluhan,” Aquino said in his speech. The President likewise said that the Philippines will remain steadfast on its rights over Panatag Shoal. “Kung may pumasok sa inyong bakuran at sinabing sa kanya na ang kanyang kinatatayuan, papayag ba kayo? Hindi naman po yata tamang ipamigay na lang natin sa iba ang sadyang atin talaga," the President said. Aquino also asked Filipinos to unite in asserting the Philippine’s rights to the disputed territory. The Philippines has been locking horns with China for the past three months over ownership of the Panatag Shoal off the West Philippine Sea. The Philippines uses the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to assert its ownership of the shoal, while China uses historical claims. Four days before Monday's SONA, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile advised President Aquino avoid talking about the territorial dispute with China over Panatag Shoal. “If I were the President, I wouldn’t touch on it [Panatag Shoal issue] in my SONA. That’s a sensitive national security problem… Don’t talk about a problem that your enemy has an interest on.”  — LBG, GMA News