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Palace: Duterte will definitely raise Hague ruling in meeting with Xi

/ 05:36 AM August 27, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — There is no stopping President Rodrigo Duterte from speaking his mind about the 2016 arbitral ruling on the South China Sea dispute and other issues affecting the country’s interests.

The President’s longtime aide, Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, said the Chief Executive “is very ready” to fight for the Philippines’ interests in the maritime row with Beijing.

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Go will be joining the President’s delegation for this trip, which is the President’s sixth visit to China since assuming the presidency in 2016.

The President is scheduled to fly to Beijing on Wednesday and return on Sept. 1.

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‘Nobody can stop me’

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the President would “definitely” bring up the 2016 arbitral ruling in his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping as it was now time for the President to do so.

“The President is serious, is very serious when he says, ‘I will raise these issues and nobody can stop me,’” Panelo said.

He cited recent incidents such as the entry of Chinese warships and survey ships into the country’s exclusive economic zone and reports of Filipino fishermen being driven away by the Chinese.

“It’s too many. That’s why he told me the other day, he will raise it. First the arbitral ruling and then he will touch on the incidents, Reed Bank. And then the joint exploration, those three major issues, he will raise those,” the Palace official said.

Last week, the President said nobody could stop him from bringing up the arbitral ruling with Xi and that he would rather not talk at all if he would be prevented from doing so.

Pogo issue

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“According to the Chinese government, we’re supposed to be friends. So any issue can be raised there as friends,” Panelo said.

Asked if the President would raise the issue of Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogo) and the proliferation of Chinese nationals here, Panelo said Beijing might be the one to bring it up.

The Palace official said they expected the talks between Xi and President Duterte on the South China Sea dispute to be very fruitful.

On Wednesday, the President admitted there were people who told him not to talk about the arbitral ruling which favored Manila’s claims in the South China Sea dispute and invalidated Beijing’s nine-dash-line claim.

“So whether you like it or not, it will make you happy or not, angry or otherwise, I’m sorry. But we have to talk about the arbitral ruling,” the President said.

Oil exploration

The Chief Executive said he would not go to war with China and that he hoped to resolve the maritime dispute peacefully.

The President said he would also raise the 60-40 sharing deal in the proposed joint oil and mineral exploration with Beijing in the South China Sea.

Aside from meeting with Xi, the President will also watch the Philippines’ Team Gilas national basketball team play at the FIBA World Cup.

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