Lorenzana: Duterte right, no need for arbitral ruling to defend PH sovereignty
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines can assert its rights in the West Philippine Sea even without the 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Thursday (May 6), agreeing with President Rodrigo Duterte that the ruling was a worthless “piece of paper” that can be tossed into the trash bin.
“What Presidente Duterte said last night regarding the PCA ruling is correct,” Lorenzana said in a statement, referring to Duterte’s remarks in his public address on Wednesday night (May 5) saying that “nothing” happened when he tried to assert the arbitral award, amid mounting criticisms of his handling of Chinese intrusion in the West Philippine Sea, the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
“I pursued it nothing happened,” Duterte said. “Actually, to be frank about it, I’ll tell you. Give it to me? Son of a bitch, that’s just a piece of paper. I’ll throw it in the waste basket,” the President said.
Lorenzana said he agreed with Duterte that there was no international law enforcement body that can implement the ruling.
“However, even without the PCA ruling, we will continue to defend what is rightfully ours,” he said.
But the arbitral ruling is commonly cited by Duterte’s top diplomats and officials in their official pronouncements against China in the West Philippine Sea.
Nonetheless, Lorenzana said Duterte remained “firm and straightforward” in his orders to defend the Philippines’ interests without resorting to war with China, which has declared West Philippine Sea and other parts of the Philippines’ EEZ as Chinese territory.
Last weekend, the defense chief denied that he and Duterte were on opposing sides of the issue.
“To those who are saying the President and I are not aligned, let me clarify that my pronouncements echo the stand of our President and commander-in-chief,” Lorenzana said.
He vowed that the Philippine Coast Guard and Bureau of Fisheries ad Aquatic Resources will continue its patrols in Philippine waters being grabbed by China.
“While we acknowledge that China’s military capability is more advanced than ours, this does not deter us from defending our national interest, and our dignity as a people, with all that we have,” Lorenzana said.
“The government will not waver in its position. There will be no retreat,” he said.
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