MANILA, Philippines – Former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario said China’s recent moves in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) should prompt the Duterte government to “finally unshelve” the victory won by the Philippines at The Hague.
In a statement Saturday evening, April 13, Del Rosario said the secretary of foreign affairs (SFA), Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr, should “develop recommendations” after China’s “aggressive moves” in the West Philippine Sea.
Recent reports said hundreds of Chinese militia have circled Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea, prompting strongly worded statements from both Malacañang and the Department of Foreign Affairs. China on the other hand asserted that the Spratly Group of Islands, which includes Pag-asa, is “China’s territory.”
Del Rosario said, “What is currently notable is that Beijing is now clearly revisiting its excessive and unlawful claim in the South China Sea that has been ruled upon by the arbitral tribunal whose ruling is now an integral part of international law.”
“At the same time, amid aggressive moves by our northern neighbor in such areas as Pag-asa, in other areas and in other issues, it may be the right time to finally unshelve our arbitral outcome, enabling our SFA to develop recommendations for our President’s consideration,” the former top diplomat added.
Del Rosario said he and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales “believe that now is the best time to address the arbitral tribunal outcome.”
Both of them had filed a complaint against Chinese President Xi Jinping and other Chinese officials before the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity in the South China Sea.
“In this regard, we also humbly suggest that the government rely on the SFA to be responsible for all aspects of foreign relations,” he added.
Since the Philippines won the Hague ruling in July 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte has decided to shelve it to boost economic ties with Beijing. Duterte however said “there will come a time” when he will confront China about the Hague ruling. – Rappler.com