Philippines ‘’continues to view arbitral ruling as valid and legitimate’’:Lorenzana
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday said the country will not surrender any parts of its territory to China.
"I would like to emphasize that the Philippines continues to view the arbitral ruling as valid and legitimate," Lorenzana said at the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines Prospects Forum in Makati City.
"We have not and we will not surrender any part of our territory," he said.
The ruling was handed down by a Dutch-based international court in 2016.
According to Lorenzana, the West Philippine Sea dispute remains as the most critical, external security challenge for the country.
“We have competing maritime claims there (with) some ASEAN members and China, and compounding the issue is the backdrop of a rapidly evolving regional environment where the United States and China have this ongoing rivalry on the control of the area, and also the potential Taiwan Strait conflict," he said.
He said President Rodrigo Duterte has pursued a calibrated,comprehensive and constructive approach in engaging China.
"The goal is to pursue functional cooperation with China and other claimant countries," said Lorenzana.
"And in many instances, the president as said he is going to raise that before the Chinese before his term ends," he reiterated.
The Philippines won the arbitral ruling last July 2016 against China's claimed of their historical nine-dash line which includes some of the islands which are under the country's exclusive economic zones.
Lorenzana also said he was asked during the budget hearing in Senate last Wednesday what is Philippine military’s plan if the ties between China and Taiwan worsen.
“I was asked yesterday at the Senate hearing of our budget. What is our action if there is, if China will attack Taiwan? I don’t know. I told them it’s very unlikely that China will attack Taiwan but in the unlikely event then we just watch maybe,” Lorenzana said in his speech.
Last January 2, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Taiwan remains a “part of China” and they will not give up the use of military forces as an option to ensure the its “reunification” with mainland.
Reports said Beijing has stepped up pressure in Taiwan after independence-leaning Tsai Ing-wen won the 2016 presidential elections. Ella Dionisio/DMS