China won’t recognize PH arbitral victory over WPS – Locsin
China “won’t respect” the Philippines’ arbitral tribunal victory over the West Philippine Sea, so “who are we to impose that upon them?” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Monday.
The remark came when Locsin was asked, in an interview over ABS CBN News Channel, whether China would respect the United Nations’ (UN) Arbitral Tribunal’s decision in relation to the memorandum of understanding (MOU) for oil and gas development cooperation with the Philippines.
“No, [China] won’t respect it. They said we did not take part in that agreement and who am I — who are we — to impose that upon them? The point is it is now a part of international law,” Locsin said.
READ: PH, China sign MOU on oil and gas development, 28 other deals
READ: Philippines wins arbitration case vs. China over South China Sea
In 2016, the UN Arbitral Tribunal ruled that the Philippines had exclusive sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea (in the South China Sea) and that China’s “nine-dash line” was invalid.
But Locsin saw no point in bringing up the arbitral ruling in the MOU of oil and gas development cooperation with China.
“What would be the point of saying that? Remember, on the other side they’re also lawyers like we’re lawyers on this side. Why would you even bring that up?” he said when asked how the two nations would proceed with the MOU if China would insist on its stand against the arbitral ruling.
“This is a cooperation agreement for exploration. Now, the notion that came out that there is only need for technical assistance, no we don’t. We also need money to explore,” he added.
Locsin also pointed out that the arbitral tribunal decision was “not so much” against China or in favor of the Philippines but in favor of international law.
“The arbitral ruling is not so much against China, is not so much in favor of the Philippines, as it was in favor of international law. There was confusion in what are maritime features and they [UN] clarified it,” Locsin said.
“Perhaps, one day, China, too, has maritime features and they will use that. It’s not a question of one won the other laws, and that’s it. It’s now part of international law,” he added.
Despite this, Locsin said the UN Arbitral Tribunal decision would still be part of the MOU under the context of international law. This, he said, could serve as a basis for the MOU on oil and gas since it is part of the international law.
Asked again if the arbitral tribunal ruling could serve as the basis for the MOU, Locsin said: “Yes it can. Yes, it’s here, international law.” /cbb
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.