Gov’t to raise South China Sea arbitration ruling ‘at proper time’

MANILA Despite China's refusal to recognize the arbitration ruling on the South China Sea, the Philippines will take full advantage of it at the proper time to assert its maritime claims in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

National Security Adviser Secretary Hermogenes Esperon Jr. made this assurance Wednesday amid criticisms that the Duterte administration has abandoned the 2016 United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)'s decision nullifying China's 9-dash line map which covers nearly the whole of South China Sea (SCS).

This administration does not and will not abandon the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the South China Sea disputes, Esperon said in a press statement.

He said Duterte has decided to temporarily shelve the tribunal ruling in line with the efforts of government at promoting peace, stability, and cordial relations among claimant countries in the region.

At the proper time, we will take full advantage of the tribunal ruling, even as China refuses to recognize this, to serve as basis for the country's exercise of sovereignty and jurisdiction over features that are in the Philippine territorial waters, Esperon said.

He said the government continuously monitors China's deployment of missiles in the three artificial islands within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

In a House briefing on Wednesday, Duterte's top security adviser said filing a diplomatic protest against China for its landing of bombers on Woody Island in the Paracels being claimed by Vietnam, but not by the Philippines, was unnecessary.

He said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) had been raising China's militarization and other WPS concerns at the Bilateral Consultative Mechanism (BCM) between China and the Philippines.

The Philippine government has not been remiss in undertaking diplomatic actions against any nation, Esperon said.

Duterte had repeatedly said he won't take a violent action in asserting the country's sovereignty in the WPS,

explaining that war against China would mean great losses for Filipino soldiers and for the country.

The Filipino leader, however, had told Chinese leader Xi Jingping in one of their previous bilateral meetings that he would bring up the PCA ruling again before he steps down in 2022.

Meanwhile, Esperon confirmed that the Philippine government is presently upgrading port and airstrip facilities in Pag-asa Island to promote the welfare of Filipinos living in the 32.2-hectare island.

This is necessary for trade, the preservation of the livelihood of the fisher folk, and the timely delivery of basic necessities of the community in the municipality of Pag-asa, Esperon said.

He said lighthouses are being constructed as part of the country's responsibility under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to provide navigational safety for all international vessels transiting the WPS. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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