ONE year after the Philippines won its case against China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which invalidated Beijing’s nine-dash line claims, Malacañang said the relations between the two countries had greatly improved despite the continuing concerns over the developments in the disputed South China Sea.
Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella on Tuesday reiterated that the Philippines and China were now engaged in bilateral talks over the South China Sea, which the Philippines refers to as the West Philippine Sea.
“A year after the ruling of the PCA in The Hague, the Philippines and China are now in dialogue,” Abella told reporters.
“It’s excellent that we are now in dialogue with the other country.”
Abella made his statement even as a retired intelligence official warned Tuesday that China was ready to go to war should the Philippines insist on its arbitral victory over it in the West Philippine Sea.
Retired general Victor Corpus said the reason China was continuously building military garrisons in the disputed waters was to protect itself and to prevent a possible US blockade in the event of a military confrontation.
“If we pursue this decision of The Hague, China is ready to go to war to defend what it perceives as its territorial integrity and sovereignty,” Corpus told a forum.
“That is the real reason why China built those islands. It is not for oil, gas or fish. It is for survival.”
The Philippines and China entered into a bilateral consultation mechanism in May 2017, when they reiterated their commitment to cooperate and find ways to strengthen their trust and confidence in the issues related to the disputed waters.
“[The] Philippines and China have reviewed their experience on the West Philippine Sea issue, exchanged views on current issues of concern to either side, and they have agreed that they will further discuss mutually acceptable approaches to deal with them,” Abella said.
He said both agreed to meet during the second half of 2017, when the Philippines would raise its concerns on the problem of Filipinos fishing in the disputed waters.
“We will have a second meeting, and I am sure items like that will be considered,” he said.
On July 12, 2016 the Permanent Court of Arbitration issued a ruling on the Philippines’ arbitration case against China’s so-called nine-dash line claim in the South China Sea.
The United Nations-backed tribunal ruled that Beijing violated its commitment under the Convention on the Law of the Sea when it built artificial islands in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
China, however, refused to honor the landmark ruling and insisted it had indisputable sovereignty over the contested waters.
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