Philippines urged to raise arbitral ruling before UN; Locsin disagrees
MANILA, Philippines — BBC journalist and book author Bill Hayton, urged the Philippine government to raise the arbitral ruling before the United Nations (UN).
In an exchange on Twitter with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., Hayton, who authored the book The South China Sea: The Struggle for Power in Asia, said the options for the Philippine government is not simply limited between “pointless war and abject surrender.”
“That’s what diplomacy is. In this struggle, Manila has many friends all around the world. They are willing to help,” Hayton said, as he described the refusal of the country to raise the ruling “the face of defeat.”
Locsin, however, disagreed with Hayton, saying: “O, I don’t agree with you. President [Rodrigo] Duterte fears for his people in a war over the South China Sea. I have no problem with war. It cleanses and the world needs a purgative,” Locsin said.
Locsin insisted that “our lawyers said [it is] not a good idea to re-litigate the same issues.”
“We lost in the UN’s NAM (Non-Aligned Movement) at least 3 times since I assumed UN and now this post. I boycotted NAM but realized we were not there; but ASEAN was or some of it; and to no avail,” Locsin said.
Hayton replied that there is no need to re-litigate, adding the eight of the world’s ten largest countries in terms of economy are “on your side” as well as “almost all your ASEAN neighbors.”
“Plus the world’s strongest military power and plenty of middle powers. Get your diplomats moving!” Hayton argued.
“You have International law on your side, 28 EU states agreeing a statement in your support, G7 statements calling for maritime rules to be respected, a treaty ally committed to the defense of your ships and a cadre of competent diplomats,” he added.
Above all these, Hayton had one question: “What more does the Philippines need?”
Locsin, meanwhile, said that the UN will only “trash” the arbitral ruling, adding that the United States “is not committed to defend our ships.”
In terms of the 28 EU states, Locsin said that “they’re dying for Chinese trade and investments.”
No signs of activity
Hayton said that he does not see any sign of activity from the Philippine government pushing for the country’s interests in the contested waters.
“Have you asked your diplomats to build a coalition of support? Have you asked for foreign counterparts what they are willing to do to back their nice statements?” Hayton asked.
Locsin responded: “No need to ask, they’re on it. DFA not just verbally committed but enforcing as far as they can the Arbitral Award in every forum.”
“Never ever question the loyalty of the DFA to the country and the national interest regardless of administration. In the UN I led the attack and told career to keep low; I have nothing to lose; they have lots; but still they fight hard & openly,” he added.
In July 2016, the Philippines secured a historic victory against China before the United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, which invalidated Beijing’s nine-dash line that covers almost the entire South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea. /gsg
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