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The Philippines should not rely on the United States for defense over the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea, Senator Grace Poe said Thursday.
With US Ambassador Philip Goldberg just a few seats away from her, Poe said the US cannot be expected to always come to the Philippines' aid in its conflict with China over the issue even though the US and the Philippines are allies.
"I'm sorry to say, Mr. Ambassador, but I know the US, our ally...we can't fault them for thinking of their own interests. In pursuing any conflict, the first interest we need to think of are our constituents," Poe said at the Rotary Club of Manila's Journalism Awards ceremony where she was the guest of honor.
"Can we rely on the United States to defend us? I don't think we should do that. And I don't think the US would be in the position to do that because they have to be able to weigh in also on what their citizens want or what to do for their country," she said.
Poe made the statement in an open forum where she was asked questions about her position on various issues and her political plans.
She is considered a strong prospective presidential candidate in the upcoming elections, but the senator said she has not yet decided whether she will seek a higher post in 2016.
Poe said the Philippines should continue pursuing its case against China in the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal.
The Philippines, however, should maintain good relations with China over other aspects such as our economic ties, she said.
"Sometimes when we focus on one aspect, we forget the strength of the other relationships we will have," Poe said. — RSJ, GMA News