Robredo open to exploring WPS with China if it recognizes the 2016 ruling
MANILA, Philippines — If elected, presidential aspirant Vice President Leni Robredo said the Philippines would only enter into a joint exploration agreement with China in the West Philippine Sea if Beijing recognizes Manila’s arbitral victory in 2016.
Speaking at a presidential economic forum on Friday, Robredo said her foreign policy “will always put the interest of our country and our people first.”
“First of all, for me, what’s ours is ours,” she said in Filipino during the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX) forum.
This, when asked if she would be open to entering into a joint venture with China in the West Philippine Sea.
“Any agreement with China, especially insofar as the West Philippine Sea is concerned, must first be premised on China’s recognition of the arbitral ruling,” Robredo said.
In 2013, the Philippines filed a case with the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague in the Netherlands, challenging China’s sweeping claim of nearly the entire South China Sea, including parts of the West Philippine Sea.
The PCA ruled in favor of the Philippines in July 2016, invalidating China’s nine-dash line claim. Beijing has repeatedly refused to recognize the ruling.
Robredo said China recognizing the arbitral ruling should be the first step for the Philippines to enter a joint venture with the East Asian country.
“Dapat yun young (That should be Step 1 that if we are to enter into any joint venture or joint exploration activity with China, dapat ang unang requirement nation (that should be our first requirement is) that China recognizes our arbitral win,” the vice president said.
“Para sa’ kin (For me) a good neighbor and a real friend is really fair and follows international law. Para sa’ kin maiintindihan (They should understand) that might not make right. It does not bully or take advantage and any leader should have the courage to stand up for the dignity of our nation,” she added.
Robredo said the Philippines under her leadership will ensure that Manila’s ties with Beijing or any other country “will always be based on mutual trust and respect and recognition of the international laws.”
“We will have to address challenges always with courage and honor and we should be unrestrained by fear and be free from the influence of any political power,” she said.
“The leader of the country should be ready to stand up for our rights. We should not make compromises when it comes to our independence and territory,” she added.
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