South China Sea ruling ‘useless’

November 20, 2018

AS for now, the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague that validated the Philippines’ claims to the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea is “useless as there is no country or body on earth that can enforce” it.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said this yesterday in response to a survey showing opposition of Filipinos to the government’s inaction on China’s intrusion in the disputed areas, which coincides with the two-day state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping in the country.

“The Arbitral ruling cannot be taken away from us. It will be there forever but meanwhile, who will enforce it? There is no power on earth presently that can practically enforce it,” Panelo told Palace reporters in his regular briefing.

Panelo, who is also Duterte’s chief legal counsel, stressed that even the United Nations is not enforcing the ruling and the United States, which is the Philippines’ long-time ally, is “adamant in doing it too.”

Asked if the ruling is useless, Panelo said: “As of now, yes.”

Panelo, however, said President Duterte believes that “we can get things done through negotiations” with China.

China’s expansive claim includes parts of the West Philippine Sea, but the Permanent Court of Arbitration invalidated it in July 2016, favoring the Philippines’ claims in the area.

China has refused to recognize the ruling even as Duterte has, meanwhile, chosen to set aside the ruling and engaged China in bilateral talks.

‘Do nothing’ policy defended

Senator Koko Pimentel yesterday defended the Duterte administration’s “do nothing” policy towards that militarization in the West Philippine Sea saying that befriending China is the best course of action for the Philippines.

Pimentel is reacting to the Social Weather Stations survey showing that 84 percent of Filipinos reject the “do nothing” policy of the administration.

“True, we failed to stop the militarization but the US (United States) also failed to stop it,” Pimentel said.

The senator pointed out that if a superpower like the United States could not stop China from installing military equipment in the contested islands, how much more the Philippines.

“If the US failed to stop it, do we really think the PH (Philippines) can stop the military maneuvering of a country the US cannot even stop?” asked Pimentel.

But the senator denied that the administration did nothing to save the claim of the country.  He said that President Rodrigo Duterte made moves to avoid tension with China.

“The government under President Duterte did something,” he said.  “So what did the Duterte admin do?  We befriended China, our giant neighbor to the north, which fortunately also wants to befriend us.  Why should we fight when we can be friends?”

With Marlon Purificacion