PH doesn’t recognize Beijing’s ‘legal possession’ of South China Sea
MANILA, Philippines — China believes it has “legal possession” of the South China Sea but the Philippine government does not recognize it, Malacañang said Thursday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the clarification a day after he told reporters that China has “legal and constructive possession” of the disputed waterway.
“As far as they are concerned, it’s theirs. It’s theirs. Why can’t we understand that?” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
“The President has been repeating it, according to them, they own it. As far as they are concerned, legally, it’s theirs. For us, as far as we are concerned, it’s also legally ours,” he added.
Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on Thursday called on Panelo to retract his statement, saying it would weaken the Philippines’ diplomatic win in the South China Sea row.
“I and the President [believe], they are in possession, constructive possession because of their military hardwares situated there,” Panelo said.
Despite it’s nine-dash line claim in the South China Sea that expands to the West Philippine Sea, Panelo said the government maintains its stand that the Philippines does not recognize this.
“Of course not, we’re not. As far as we are concerned, we’ve been ruled to be owning that portion of that territory or we have exclusive right to particular territories,” he said.
In July 2016, the Philippines sealed a historic win against China before the United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal in The Hague, which invalidated Beijing’s sweeping claims to almost all of the South China Sea.
China, however, has repeatedly ignored the ruling. /jpv
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.