'We did all we could', says Roque, on arbitral win in West PH Sea

Published July 12, 2021, 4:32 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The Duterte government did everything it could to assert the country’s arbitral win in the West Philippine Sea dispute with China, Malacañang insisted on Monday.

President Duterte delivers his remarks before the virtual United Nations General Assembly on

On the fifth anniversary of the landmark ruling in favor of the Philippines, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said President Duterte already raised the arbitral award before the United Nations General Assembly, insisting it has become part of international law.

“We have done all that we could, given the absence of an enforcement mechanism under international law,” Roque said during a televised press briefing Monday, July 12.

“Dahil wala pong pulis na magpapatupad niyan, ginawa na po ng gobyerno ang lahat ng hakbang para nga po magkaroon ng buhay iyang desisyon na iyan kasama na po iyong pagtatalumpati ng Presidente sa ating UN General Assembly na sinabi niya na kabahagi na po ng international law ang arbitral decision na iyan (Because there is no enforcer to implement it, the government took all steps to bring life to the decision, including the President’s speech before the UN General Assembly where he said the arbitral decision was part of international law),” he added.

In 2016, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled on the South China Sea dispute in favor of the Philippines, saying the China’s claim of historic rights over the area has no basis in law. China however has ignored the court ruling and continued its expansion over the territory.

In an address before the virtual UN assembly last year, the President mentioned the country’s legal victory against China in the dispute over the South China Sea and vowed to reject attempts to undermine the arbitral award. Duterte said the award was “beyond compromise and beyond the reach of passing governments to dilute, diminish or abandon.”

Duterte drew praises from many groups for finally tackling the sea ruling in the world body. He previously earned criticisms for his supposed soft stance towards China despite the unlawful incursions into the country’s waters. When he assumed office in 2016, Duterte forged closer economic and defense ties with China while managing the territorial dispute through a bilateral dialogue mechanism. He often said the country could not afford to go to war with China over the conflict.

Recently, the President assured the nation that while he considered China a good friend and appreciated its donation of coronavirus vaccines, he would not compromise the country’s sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea following the recent presence of Chinese ships in local waters. Government ships have been directed to continue the sovereign patrols in the area.