PH not giving up ‘an inch’ of territory, an ‘iota of sovereignty’ to China—DFA
President Rodrigo Duterte is not giving up “an inch” of Philippine territory, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Thursday, after the Chief Executive said China is “already in possession” of the South China Sea.
In a press briefing here, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. initially did not want to comment on Duterte’s remark because he was not present when the President issued the statement to reporters in an ambush interview.
But Locsin, who assumed his post as the country’s top diplomat in October, said the Philippines was not surrendering its claims to China in the West Philippine Sea.
“Absolutely not. I have repeatedly said not an inch, not an iota of sovereignty. That was my, I keep saying it, I said it also in the UN (United Nations),” he said in a press briefing here.
In an ambush interview before attending the Asean-India Informal Breakfast Summit here, Duterte was asked if he was in favor of holding military drills in the South China Sea.
The President replied “no” and admitted that China was “already in possession” of the South China Sea and any military drill in the are may result to “friction” among claimant countries.
“I said China is already in possession. It’s now in their hands. So why do you have to create frictions, strong military activity that will prompt a response from China?” he said.
The Philippines, China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei Darussalam, and Taiwan have overlapping claims in the South China Sea.
China claims nearly the entire South China Sea, including parts of the West Philippine Sea, but the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague invalidated this in July 2016, favoring the Philippines’ claims in the area.
But China has refused to recognize the sea ruling. /je
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