MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines on Thursday, July 12, called for “restraint and sobriety” as it welcomed the decision of a United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal favoring its dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). (READ: Philippines wins case vs China)
Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr made the statement in a news briefing minutes after the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, the Netherlands, announced the decision of the arbitral tribunal.
"Our experts are studying the Award with the care and thoroughness that this significant arbitral outcome deserves. In the meantime, we call on all those concerned to exercise restraint and sobriety," Yasay said.
Yasay added that the Philippines "strongly affirms its respect for this milestone decision" to help address disputes in the South China Sea.
"The decision upholds international law, particularly the 1982 UNCLOS," he said.
Yasay added, "The Philippines reiterates its abiding commitment to efforts to pursue the peaceful resolution and management of disputes with a view to promoting and enhancing peace and stability in the region."
Yasay refused to entertain questions because he has a meeting to attend. No other Philippine official is expected to speak on the ruling, as Yasay had been designated as the "sole spokesperson on the matter," according to Malacañang.
The Philippine official's brief statement on the award appears to be consistent with the position taken by President Rodrigo Duterte on the China issue, during the first Cabinet meeting of his administration on June 30.
Duterte said during that partly televised Cabinet meeting that he would not "flaunt" a possible ruling against China as he would prefer a "soft landing." He had said that a favorable decision "would be a moral victory and put a country in an akward position," apparently referring to the stature of China as an economic and military giant in the region. – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.