Press Release
May 11, 2012

Deploy economic-business 'Avengers' to win peace & joint deals
in West Philippine Sea & elsewhere

Sen. Ralph G. Recto yesterday pressed for the immediate deployment of a contingent of economic and business diplomats that would engage China and its business leaders in spirited discourse on the joint exploration of the vast economic potentials of West Philippine Sea.

"As the tension escalates in Panatag Shoal, I think it's better for businessmen to talk than politicians talking. Maybe we can salvage a peaceful resolution," Recto, Senate ways and means chair and Senate foreign relations member, said.

Recto said the tension in West Philippine Sea could be approached from a purely business perspective rather than from an agitated politico-military angle.

"It's time for economic and business diplomacy. Instead of deploying our military 'Avengers,' let's send our 'Economic Avengers'," Recto said.

He added: "Let's focus on things that unite us than those that divide us. Let's expand our trade and business with China through project tie-ups in West Philippine Sea and elsewhere."

Recto said he hoped Filipino tycoons with Chinese lineage would lead in engaging their Chinese counterparts in exploring tie-ups.

He nevertheless said joint deals with China must also be forged to set up manufacturing plants in the country that would cater to Southeast Asian market in preparation for the breaking down of tariff barriers under the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) by 2015.

Recto said the economic diplomatic route must be seized aggressively as the "hawks" and "doves" inside the Chinese hierarchy constantly struggle for dominance in pushing for their own agenda in West Philippine Sea.

"Better we start talking to the doves now than be waylaid by their military hawks," he said.

The senator said the latest move to shut down commercial flights to and from China and the cancellation of tourist package tours bound for the country could be an indication that the "hawks" in the Chinese politburo has gained the temporary upper hand.

Recto likewise appealed to Philippine and Chinese governments to refrain from further agitating their own people by dishing out heated statements and instead issue a call for national sobriety.

"We don't want this to further escalate. Both sides should take a pause and allow nationalist emotions to simmer down. Everybody should stop stoking the fire," he said.

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