Locsin: PH hasn’t surrendered a territory, we must uphold arbitral ruling
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government “has not surrendered a single inch of territory,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Tuesday, adding that the arbitral ruling favoring the country against China in the West Philippine Sea issue should be upheld.
Locsin made the remark during the deliberations of the Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA) 2022 budget before the House committee on appropriations.
“As no one thought possible, we have pursued an independent foreign policy for the first time in the history of the Republic, and done well by earning a heightened respect from the community of nations. If we had been a tail, we have now wagging the dog,” Locsin said.
“We have not surrendered a single inch of territory. Not by word or deed have we weakened our right to everything in the West Philippine Sea, and without inviting pity by asking, we achieved an international consensus that the right is with us, and might cannot ever take it away,” he added.
Locsin also underscored the importance of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 2016 arbitral ruling that favored the Philippines in its claims in the West Philippine Sea.
UNCLOS is an international agreement that establishes a legal framework for all marine and maritime activities.
“DFA is proud to say, just because we have differences does that we have to fight over everything, but fight we will when we must,” Locsin said.
“As country coordinator of ASEAN China dialogue relations from August 2018 to August 2021, the Philippines takes pride in the gains achieved in negotiations of the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea… It goes without saying, we must uphold UNCLOS and the arbitral award, and not undermine it,” he added.
The Duterte administration has been criticized for its stand over the West Philippine Sea issue, particularly President Rodrigo Duterte’s statements downplaying the 2016 arbitral ruling—at one point even calling it a piece of paper that should be thrown in a waste basket.
In 2013, the Philippines under the Aquino administration 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, two weeks after Duterte assumed office, the tribunal ruled that 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, the waters within the country’s 370-km exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.
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