Palace: Duterte’s stance on arbitral ruling vs China ‘consistent’
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has always been consistent in affirming the country’s South China Sea arbitral victory against China, Malacañang said Wednesday.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that even before Duterte brought this up before the United Nations General Assembly, the Philippines never changed its position on the arbitral ruling.
“We have never changed our position on the arbitral ruling. I have said it over and over again that there is nothing that can undermine that decision, it is evidence of customary law. And the President is just being consistent,” Roque said in an interview over CNN Philippines when asked why Duterte brought the issue up before the UN.
“Well, it’s the first time that the President spoke in the UN General Assembly ‘no. So, it’s the first time that the President was able to say what has been his consistent position all along,” he added.
Roque said the President would have said the same thing if he had spoken before the international body in the previous years.
During his debut at the UN General Assembly, Duterte asserted the 2016 ruling of the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague which invalidated China’s claim in the entire South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.
China has repeatedly refused to acknowledge this and even continued its reclamation activities and militarization in the heavily contested waters.
Regardless of the two nations’ stance on the territorial dispute, Roque reiterated that it is not the sum of the Philippines’ bilateral relations with China.
“As I said, we will proceed on all other aspects of our relationship and we would probably accept the fact that there will be no resolution in the near future as far as the territorial dispute is concerned but let’s proceed on matters that we could move forward with such as investment and trade,” Roque said.
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