Estrada celebrates PH victory at UN court on sea dispute
MANILA — “It’s time to celebrate,” former president and Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada said Tuesdaynight in reaction to the UN arbitral tribunal ruling that China has no historic rights over the waters of the West Philippine Sea, also referred to as parts of the South China Sea.
“We have a strong hold on our claims” on disputed territories with China and other neighboring Asean countries, Estrada told the Philippine Daily Inquirer on the sidelines of a thanksgiving concert for current Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno, who once served as chairman of the Board of Regents of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila.
Diokno also served as Department of Budget and Management chief during the Estrada administration.
The budget secretary, however, was unable to grace the concert, as an emergency Cabinet meeting was called following the issuance of the UN court ruling.
Asked what should be the next steps to be undertaken by the Philippine government, Estrada said: “That will depend on the President [Rodrigo R. Duterte] and his Foreign Affairs Secretary,” referring to Perfecto R. Yasay Jr.
Yasay earlier welcomed the ruling, saying “our experts are studying the award with the care and thoroughness that this significant arbitral outcome deserves.”
“In the meantime, we call on all those concerned to exercise restraint and sobriety,” Yasay said.
“The Philippines strongly affirms its respect for this milestone decision as an important contribution to ongoing efforts in addressing disputes in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea). The decision upholds international law, particularly the 1982 UNCLOS,” according to Yasay, referring to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Estrada said the Aquino administration should be credited for bringing China to arbitration with regards the territorial disputes at the West Philippine Sea. SFM
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