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Palace: PH taking ‘soft landing’ approach in sea dispute

By: - Reporter / @NCorralesINQ
/ 05:14 PM January 27, 2017
Philippines South China Sea

This July 20, 2011 file photo, captured through the window of a closed aircraft, shows an aerial view of Pag-asa Island, part of the disputed Spratly group of islands, in the South China Sea located off the coast of western Philippines. AP File Photo/Pool

The Philippine government is not giving up its sovereign rights over disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea, a Palace official said on Friday.

“What the President is doing is asserting it but in a different diplomatic style,” Abella told reporters in a Palace briefing on Friday.

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Abella made the statement after a Pulse Asia survey showed that 84 percent of the surveyed Filipinos believed the government should assert its claim over the disputed sea as stated on the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

READ: 8 in 10 Filipinos want PH to assert rights in South China Sea—Pulse Asia

The Palace official quoted a statement of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana saying the government has chosen a “soft landing” approach in dealing with the issue after the July 12 decision of the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration favoring the Philippine diplomatic protest against China.

“If you remember, when the ruling was promulgated in July 12, we got a lot of bragging from countries that we should forcefully assert the ruling in favor of the Philippines. But our government chose instead to have soft landing. The President chose to have bilateral talks with the Chinese government, which gave us some advantage,” Abella quoted Lorenzana as saying.

“The President has said that he is not giving up our claims in the EEZ [exclusive economic zone] according to UNCLOS [United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea]. It just so happens that the Chinese government has reclaimed three of the islands there and they also have a presence in Scarborough,” he added, still quoting the defense chief.

President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly said in his public speeches that he would not wage a war with China over the maritime dispute, saying he would seek “soft landing” in dealing with the issue.

In October, Duterte embarked on a four-day state visit to China, engaging on a bilateral talk with President Xi Jinping. JE/rga

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TAGS: Beijing, China, Diplomacy, dispute, Ernesto Abella, Foreign Policy, Malacañang, Maritime Dispute, soft landing, South China Sea, Territory, West Philippine Sea
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