Palace: Not too late to raise arbitration award vs China
Whether President Rodrigo Duterte brings up the arbitration award on South China Sea sooner or later in his administration, it would not be too late, his spokesman said on Monday.
This is because the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration's decision invalidating China's historic and sovereign claim in almost the entire South China Sea through its nine-dash line theory would always be forever, said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo in a press briefing.
"I do not think so because the arbitration award will be there forever," he said.
This was despite Beijing's continuous activities in its held artificial islands in the disputed waters.
"We’ll have to leave it with the President’s judgment on when and where the perfect time would be made. He has six years within which to do it. So as you said, we’re still only coming in the half of his term," Panelo said.
China did not participate in the arbitration proceeding when the Philippines brought the case before the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal. It also refused to recognize the PCA ruling.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to embark on a visit to the Philippines later this month on Duterte's invitation.
Meanwhile, Panelo said the government has yet to confirm reports that China has opened weather stations on the artificial islands in Kagitingan, Subi and Panganiban Reefs, which are within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.
But if the reports would be true, Panelo said new Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. would surely act on it.
"Certainly, the DFA will do its work and make the necessary diplomatic protest," he said.
When Duterte assumed office, he has taken a softer stance with China.
But he has promised to raise the PCA ruling before he steps down from office in 2022. Celerina Monte/DMS