Palace to China: Respect tribunal ruling over Spratlys
MANILA, Philippine — Respect the 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Malacañan Palace told the Chinese government on Sunday.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued this statement as China’s spokesperson said that the Spratly Islands are within his country’s territory.
Panelo also renewed his earlier statement that Philippines owns the controversial Spratly islands.
“We reiterate our unchanged stance — the arbitral ruling is irreversible, the same being based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and international law accepted by most, if not by all, nations. It has the stamp of permanence,” Panelo said.
Panelo was referring to the 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration favoring the Philippines in its dispute with China over the so-called nine-dash line in the South China Sea.
The ruling invalidated Beijing’s sweeping claims to almost all of the South China Sea and recognized the Philippines’ sovereign rights in areas within its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone, which includes the Spratlys.
“We urge the Chinese government to respect it, and we hope the mechanism of bilateral negotiations between the countries forge a mutually satisfactory solution to the conflict based on internationally accepted principles of justice and reciprocity, as well as anchored on the dictates of each national security and aspirations of their people,” Panelo added.
Reacting to a statement of former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario that “the best time to address the arbitral tribunal outcome,” Panelo said that the administration had “never shelved” the ruling.
“It only remains unenforceable because no foreign force seems persuaded to help us enforce it, and neither do we have the capability of enforcing it alone by force, not to mention the fact that performing armed acts of enforcement could only trigger a bloody war that could cost the lives of our countrymen and destruction of properties in our land,” Panelo said.
“Assuming that we have temporarily shelved it as we pursue trade relations with China, the fact of invoking the arbitral ruling in our latest statement as well as asserting our sovereignty on our territory and right over our exclusive economic zone in response to an official statement from the Chinese government reiterating its claim of ownership and sovereignty over the disputed areas, effectively removed it from the shelf by virtue of such invocation and assertion,” he added.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines recently monitored an extraordinary surge of vessels from a Chinese fishing fleet around Philippine-occupied islands in the West Philippine Sea this year.
According to the monitoring of the agency, more than 600 Chinese fishing vessels have been recorded surrounding the sandbars of Pag-asa (Thitu) Island in the first quarter of 2019 alone.
Duterte had earlier told China to lay off Pag-asa Island, while Panelo said Philippine sovereignty is non-negotiable.
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