By Mario Casayuran
Two years after the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague that favored the Philippine government, the challenge, not only for the Philippine and Chinese governments, but for all of us, people directly and indirectly affected, is to imagine and work toward a region where conflicts are resolved peacefully, with mutual respect, and for the common good.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan, president of the opposition Liberal Party (LP), expressed this ‘’scholarly’’ sentiment while others in the political opposition accused President Duterte of even getting closer to China and moving away from the orbit of the United States.
The Philippines and the US have several security agreements.
After the ruling that rejected China’s ‘’historical’’ claim’’ over the areas in the West Philippine Sea claimed and won by the Philippines via the Hague ruling, Pangilinan said Filipinos wonder what the international legal victory mean for them.
Pangilinan the cited the following ‘’ifs:’’
What if, after the ruling, the Philippine government used this as leverage to talk to China and push for an enforceable Code of Conduct in the South China Sea?
‘’What if, after the ruling, the Philippine government used its ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) chairmanship in 2016 (the same year the ruling came out) and gathered consensus throughout the region for this same Code of Conduct?
What if, after the ruling, the Philippine government pushed for working guidelines on the sustainable use of marine and other resources in the disputed waters?
What if, after the ruling, the Philippine government conducted a summit of fisher folks from all claimant countries to discuss common concerns and propose ways of navigating the traditional fishing grounds and make their livelihood less dangerous?
What if, after the ruling, the Philippine government intensified its engagement with the naval powers of the world and its neighbor nations to assert freedom of navigation.
Pangilinan stressed that peaceful, concrete actions are possible, especially after the historic ruling.