MANILA MalacaAang on Friday said President Rodrigo R. Duterte has clarified he has not abandoned the arbitral tribunal's ruling in favor of the Philippines' protest against China's nine-dash line that covers nearly the whole of the disputed West Philippine Sea (WPS).
In a press briefing in Singapore, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte made the clarification with Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc during their bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the 32nd ASEAN Leaders' Meeting in Singapore.
It (WPS) was definitely discussed. I guess the President just wanted to make very clear that we are not abandoning, ignoring or setting aside the arbitral's ruling which is in our favor, Roque told the media.
Roque said Duterte told the Vietnam leader that he will deal with the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)'s verdict at the right time.
It was the first time I personally heard the President mentioned the arbitral ruling with a head of state, Roque said.
So I hope the President's critics will stop saying that he has abandoned, reneged, and ignored the arbitral ruling. He considers it a binding decision in favor of the Philippines, he added.
Roque, meanwhile, said he is not sure whether Duterte would discuss the PCA's ruling during the ASEAN Leader's Meeting.
Contrary to media reports, Roque said the Vietnamese leader also expressed admiration to the Philippines' stand on the disputed WPS.
He said it was the Vietnamese leader who brought up the PCA's ruling which China's rejected, prompting Duterte to temporarily set it aside to give way peaceful and friendly negotiations.
During the bilateral meeting, Roque said the Vietnamese Prime Minister assured Duterte that Vietnam will sell high quality rice at a lower price to the Philippines. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency