The Philippines is committed to protecting its rightful claims even without the 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruling which disproved China’s holds over the disputed West Philippine Sea, The Department of National Defense said on Thursday, May 6.
This follows President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s statement in his public address on Wednesday night that invoking the 2016 PCA ruling is a waste of time.
“What President Duterte said last night regarding the PCA ruling is correct. There is no international law enforcement body that can enforce it. However, even without the PCA ruling, we will continue to defend what is rightfully ours,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.
In July 2016, the Philippines won its case against China when the Permanent Court of Arbitration rejected the latter’s argument of its sovereign and historic rights over the disputed sea region located within the so-called nine-dashed line.
Duterte also said during his public address that he tried to assert the ruling but gain nothing from it.
“We won. Now, China’s ships are still there in the West Philippine Sea when I assumed office. However, we already withdrew ours. And they are convincing me to pursue the ruling. I pursued it but nothing happened,” he added as translated from the Filipino language.
The 2016 PCA ruling also validated the Philippines’ rights over the Scarborough Shoal, also called Panatag Shoal and Bajo de Masinloc, a group of rock formations found within the Philippines’ 330-kilometer exclusive economic zone.
China’s nine-dashed line claim owns 85.7 percent of the sea region which handles some $5 trillion in global trade passes per year.
“As I said in my previous statement, the President’s orders have been firm and straightforward: we defend what is rightfully ours without going to war and maintain the peace in the seas,” Lorenzana said.
He further said that the Philippine Coast Guard and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources will continue to patrol the West Philippine Sea and the Kalayaan Island Group.