Palace continues to use diplomatic ways to address West Philippine Sea issue

Palace continues to use diplomatic ways to address West Philippine Sea issue

MANILA — The Duterte administration will continue to choose the diplomatic way in addressing the territorial dispute with China, following the United Nations (UN) Tribunal decision favoring the Philippines.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte said on Thursday he will consult several people, including former President Fidel V. Ramos, to help the government discuss the issue with China and will even ask Ramos to go to China for this purpose.

The 88-year-old Ramos, as cited by news reports, said he is willing to help but noted that his advanced age is already a hindrance.

Asked what the government’s next move is if Ramos will not be able to go to China to help the Philippines on the jurisdiction dispute, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said there are other ways to address it.

”Then I suppose there may be other ways of doing it, diplomatic… diplomatic channels,” he said.

On July 12, 2016, The Hague, Netherlands-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines on the jurisdiction claims on several West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) islands.

In a press release, the Tribunal said it “found that Mischief Reef, Second Thomas Shoal and Reed Bank are submerged at high tide, form part of the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of the Philippines, and are not overlapped by any possible entitlement of China.”

It also cited that China interfered with Philippine petroleum exploration in Reed Bank, purported to prohibit fishing by Philippine vessels within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, protected and failed to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone at Mischief Reef and Second Thomas Shoal and constructed installations and artificial islands at Mischief Reef without the authorization of the Philippines.

”The Tribunal therefore concluded that China had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights with respect to its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf,” it said.

Mischief Reef is also called Panganiban Reef in the Philippines, Second Thomas Shoal is known as Ayungin Shoal and Reed Bank as Recto Bank.

The Philippines continues to remain calm on the issue despite China’s rejection of the decision.

Abella said the government is studying its next moves and will announce this over time.

”We are really thinking through the right response but the initial statement should be sometime after DFA Secretary Yasay comes back from Mongolia,” he added.

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Perfecto Yasay leads the Philippines delegation to the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEAM) Summit being held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia from July 15-16, 2016. Joann Santiago/PNA/