PH to China: Hague ruling still holds

The Philippine government will continue to assert its right at the disputed South China Sea, maintaining the decision handed down by the international arbitral tribunal in Hague in favor of the Philippines.

This, amid the statement the other day of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs that China owned the entire disputed areas at the West Philippine Seas, Palace spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

“While we concur with the Chinese official’s statement that the dispute can be best threshed out through peaceful negotiation and consultation between the two countries just as it will strengthen the Philippines-China relationship towards a solid partnership beneficial to Filipino and Chinese communities, the arbitral ruling, however, has already been rendered and we remain steadfast in maintaining our claims with respect to our territory and exclusive economic zones pursuant not only to the said arbitral judgment based on accepted principles of public international law but consistent with the directives of our Constitution and the aspirations of the Filipino people,” Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo made the statement after China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Lu Kang maintained that Spratlys, which China calls the Nansha Islands, were Chinese territory.

China is insisting it has sufficient historical and legal basis to support its claim.

In related developments:

— Former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, in a statement issued Saturday, said: “What is currently notable is that Beijing is now clearly revisiting its excessive and unlawful claim in the SCS that has been ruled upon by the arbitral tribunal which ruling is now an integral part of international law.

“At the same time, amid aggressive moves by our northern neighbor in such areas as Pag-asa, in other areas and in other issues, it may be the right time to finally unshelve our arbitral outcome enabling our SFA (Secretary of Foreign Affairs) to develop recommendations for our President’s consideration.

“Ombudswoman Conchita Carpio Morales and I believe that now is the best time ito address the Arbitral Tribunal outcome.

“In this regard,  we also humbly suggest that the government rely on the SFA to be responsible for all aspects of foreign relations.”

Panelo said while the government agreed with China that the dispute could be settled peacefully, it was already known that Spratlys belonged to the Philippines.

The International Tribunal of the Permanent Court of Arbitration found China’s nine-dash line was contrary to the United Nations Convention on the Laws Of the Sea (UNCLOS) and had no basis in law.

The case was filed by the Philippines in 2013 since China took control of a reef about 140 miles from the Philippines coast. 

The People’s Republic of China maintains it will not be bound by the ruling.

“It is our principled stand that the peace in the West Philippine Sea should be maintained and that China should avoid performing acts that will place at risk the Filipino fishermen fishing in the disputed areas and at the same time cause irritants that will disrupt the current friendly relations of the two countries as well as imperil future bilateral negotiations on matters of mutual concern,” the Palace said.

Panelo said that as a matter of protocol,  the  Philippine counterpart, the Department of Foreign Affairs, would issue an official statement on the matter.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier told China to lay off Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea, saying the narrative would change once something bad happened to Filipinos there.

“Let us be friends but do not touch Pag-asa Island and the rest. Otherwise, things would be different. This is not a warning, this is just a word of advice to my friends because we are a friend of China,” he said.

Duterte also said he would not hesitate to shed blood if the Chinese would harm Filipinos in the Pag-asa Island.

Panelo earlier noted that despite the sea row, China gave the Philippines P370-million worth of arms and ammunition during the Marawi siege in 2017 and funded a 150-bed rehabilitation center in Agusan del Sur.

He said part of the country’s effort to reciprocate China’s assistance was to be “diplomatically kind” while asserting Philippine sovereignty. With PNA

Topics: South China Sea , international arbitral tribunal , Hague , West Philippine Seas , Salvador Panelo
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