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Locsin: PH will never abandon Hague ruling

/ 07:06 PM April 15, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has assured the Filipinos that the government will “never abandon” the arbitral tribunal ruling which upheld the country’s exclusive sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea.

READ: PH wins arbitration case over South China Sea

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“We will never abandon the Hague decision nor concede an inch of the reefs taken from us. No and never,” Locsin said in a tweet on Monday.

However, Locsin added: “But do we want to cut [ourselves] off from this rising economic dynamo without parallel in speed and scale in world history?”

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Locsin made the statement following assertions made by Philippine and Chinese officials regarding the ongoing sea row in the South China Sea.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who had earlier chosen to set aside the ruling in favor of warmer ties with the Asian economic powerhouse in exchange for aid and investments, said he would deploy soldiers on a “suicide mission” if Chinese forces “touched” Pag-asa (Thitu) Island.

READ: Duterte to send soldiers on suicide mission vs. China if…

In response to Duterte and statements of other Philippine officials on the maritime dispute, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang maintained China’s claims over the Spratly Islands, saying the entire island chain has been Chinese territory for thousands of years as supported by “sufficient historical and legal basis.”

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READ: Spratlys ‘historically, legally’ ours – China spokesman

READ: China insists ‘Spratlys ours,’ asserts Sino fishers’ ‘rights’

Malacañang rebuked China’s claim and told the Chinese government to respect the 2016 arbitral tribunal ruling.

READ: Palace to China: Respect tribunal ruling over Spratlys

Meanwhile, former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said that after China’s recent claims, it “may be the right time to finally unshelve our arbitral outcome” that will enable Locsin “to develop recommendations for our President’s consideration.”

READ: Del Rosario urges Duterte: Time to act on China claims

However, Locsin earlier said that it may not be the right time to raise disagreements on the disputed waters in the South China Sea when the Philippines and China are both “hot under the collar.”

READ: Locsin: Now is not the right time to raise sea disputes with China

Nevertheless, the foreign affairs chief did not show tolerance over the reported presence of Chinese vessels near Pag-asa Island, the biggest of nine Philippine-occupied islands and shoals in the South China Sea.

“But ‘swarming in unison’ is definitely not traditional fishing under any definition,” he said.

Ignoring each other’s claims

The country’s top diplomat also said that the territorial dispute between the Philippines and China has so far been a “contest of ignoring each other’s claims.”

In a separate tweet, Locsin said China has ignored the Philippines’ victory before the Permanent Court of Arbitration just like how the Philippines ignored China’s “historical claim” of nearly the entire South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.

“So far we’ve been ignored like we ignore their historical claim,” he said, responding to the question on whether the Philippine government has brought up the arbitral tribunal ruling “when President Duterte asked China to remove its vessels around Pag-asa island.”

“It is a contest of ignoring each other’s claim. So far,” Locsin added. /ee

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TAGS: arbitral ruling, China, DFA, Philippine News, Teodoro Locsin Jr., West Philippine Sea
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