Never too late to act on something that is yours — Panelo

Published November 5, 2018, 5:03 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Genalyn Kabiling

It is up to President Duterte to determine the “perfect time” when to take full advantage of the South China Sea arbitration ruling to address the country’s territorial row with China, according to a Palace official.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo assured the public that it was never too late to raise the decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in favor of the Philippines since the award “will be there forever.”

“We’ll have to leave it with the President’s judgment on when and where the perfect time would be made. He has six years within which to do it. So as you said, we’re still only coming in the half of his term,” Panelo said during a Palace press briefing.

Panelo made the remarks when asked if the President would raise the arbitral ruling during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping in the country this month.

Asked if it might to be too late when the President decides to assert the arbitral ruling, Panelo said: “I do not think so because the arbitration award will be there forever.”

“It can never too late when you protest on a particular thing especially when the award is yours,” he added.

In July 2016, the Hague-based arbitration court ruled that China has no legal or historical basis to claim rights over resource-rich South China Sea. The United Nations-recognized tribunal said China breached the sovereign rights of the Philippines by building artificial islands, interfering with its fishing and oil projects.

Beijing has refused to recognize the decision.

President Duterte has set aside the arbitral ruling for now and instead pursue closer economic and diplomatic ties with China. Duterte intends to raise the arbitral judgment “at a time most fitting and advantageous” to Filipinos.

“It (China) has its own reasons and we have our own. There will be a time for all of that,” Panelo said.