Palace: PH won’t ditch Hague ruling in favor of joint oil deal with China
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte would not ignore or abandon the 2016 Hague ruling in favor of the joint oil exploration deal between the Philippines and China in the West Philippine Sea, Malacañang explained Thursday.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Manila and Beijing would continue to “peacefully” discuss the maritime row while proceeding with a joint oil deal.
“The exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is part of the arbitral ruling, which we will ignore to come up with an economic activity,” Duterte said in a press briefing in Malacañang Tuesday.
Panelo explained this saying: “What he said [is] the arbitral ruling is still subject to peaceful talks. That’s what he meant. In other words, [there’s an] impasse. So let’s talk other things like this joint exploration.”
While the Philippines would not set aside the ruling, Panelo said the government would “focus with other concerns that may mutually benefit the two countries.”
“Not set aside but set aside in the sense that ‘Okay, let’s still talk about that. Let’s continue the talks.’ That’s what he meant. But we will not just focus on that,” he said.
“The arbitral ruling will still be tackled in one point, peacefully, but the concentration is like the joint [exploration],” he added.
“As we have always say,” Panelo said, “the relationship between the two countries is not measured by the conflict in the West Philippine Sea alone.”
Panelo reiterated that the 2016 United Nations ruling invalidating Beijing’s expansive claims in the South China Sea remained binding and final.
“The President said it’s [ruling] permanent. It’s binding, it’s final, it’s unappealable. It’s there forever and ever, like forever,” he said.
“[T]he setting side does not mean that we will abandon it. What the President means is that, as we have repeatedly said and as he said too, the arbitral ruling is stilll subject to talks between the two countries, negotiations is onging peacefully,” he added. /jpv
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