Senators hail Duterte’s plan to invoke PH arbitral win in Beijing visit

Published August 10, 2019, 10:24 AM

by Patrick Garcia


By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senators lauded President Rodrigo Duterte for his plan to discuss the Philippines’ arbitral win over China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea in his upcoming meet with Chinese Pres. Xi Jinping.

Sen. Vicente Sotto III (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)
Sen. Vicente Sotto III
(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

Duterte will fly to Beijing later this month. This would be his fifth state visit to the country since becoming President in 2016.

The Chief Executive said he said he will go to China to talk to Xi about the July 2016 arbitral ruling which nullified its nine-dash line claim in the South China Sea.

He said he does not accept China’s sweeping claims in the West Philippines Sea, although he maintained that he does not seek to fight with his Chinese counterpart.

Duterte also said he was also amenable to adopting a proposed 60-40 sharing of marine resources in the area.

“It’s called timing. He probably thinks this is the best time to take it up,” Senate President Vicente Sotto III said on Friday night about his plan.

Also citing “timing”, pro-administration Sen. Francis Tolentino said this proved that Duterte was putting first the “greater interest” of the Philippines.

“It just shows the dynamics of diplomacy – the timing, the balancing of factors both internal and external should be left to the chief architect of our foreign policy -the President and it just shows that he is really acting for the greater interests of the Filipino nation,” Tolentino said.

While fully supporting the President’s move, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, on the other hand, admitted expecting that asserting the landmark Hague ruling would end up futile since China continues to reject it.

“I just hope something positive comes out of it, although if I want to be realistic, between the arbitral ruling and the joint oil exploration, the latter has a better chance to progress when the two leaders talk towards the end of this month,” Lacson said.

Neophyte Sen. Ronald dela Rosa said he wanted to go with Duterte to witness the meeting and listen to Xi’s response.

On Friday, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua said China, which Duterte considered a “friend”, will still not recognize the arbitral ruling.

“We expressed that we will not accept it. We will not recognize that. That position has not changed and will not be changed,” Zhao said.