Duterte’s UN speech affirming PH’s arbitral win stands, says DFA
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement before the United Nations last year affirming the country’s 2016 arbitral win against China remains the “supreme expression” of the country’s foreign policy on issues concerning the West Philippine Sea.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said this Friday in light of the President’s recent remarks downplaying the 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, invalidating China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea.
“The President’s statement at the 75th UN General Assembly on the 2016 South China Sea Arbitral Award stands as the supreme expression of foreign policy on the West Philippine Sea issue,” the DFA said in a statement.
— DFA Philippines (@DFAPHL) May 7, 2021
“The Department will continue to implement the President’s foreign policy statement in accordance with Philippine national interest,” it added.
In a public address aired Wednesday night, Duterte said that the country’s arbitral win over China is merely a “piece of paper,” like trash that can be thrown away.
Duterte’s recent remarks on the 2016 ruling was in sharp contrast to the statement he made during the 75th UN General Assembly on September 22, 2020.
“The award is now part of international law, beyond compromise and beyond the reach of passing governments to dilute, diminish or abandon,” he had said then. “We firmly reject attempts to undermine it.”
In 2013, the Philippines under the administration of then President Benigno Aquino III challenged in the Hague court China’s claim that it owned more than 80 percent of the South China Sea, which includes waters in the exclusive economic zones of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
In 2016, the tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines, saying China’s claim had no basis in international law and that it had violated the Philippines’ sovereign right to fish and explore resources in the West Philippine Sea.
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