The Philippines was able to hold on to its 2016 arbitral win and had not surrendered a “single inch or a drop” of its territory in the West Philippine Sea over the years, the outgoing Foreign Affairs chief said.
In his remark at the department’s 124th founding anniversary celebration on Thursday, June 23, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. summed up the department’s achievements in the past years under his watch, where the long-standing issue of the country in the West Philippine Sea was highlighted.
“In upholding the rule of law and not of might as the way forward, we’ve held on to UNCLOS and the 2016 arbitral award. They are the twin anchors of the Philippine position on the West Philippine and South China Seas,” Locsin said as he delivered his speech which also counted as his farewell remark to the agency as he ends his term.
Locsin stressed that without the rule of law, “none can thrive nor long survive the resulting anarchy.”
“And no — the game of anarchy does not always go to the strongest. The weaker can strike up an alliance with a yet stronger — to keep the bone of contention for itself or deny it to all,” he said.
He reaffirmed that despite the non-recognition of China of the Philippines’ arbitral award, the country has not surrendered any portion of its territory over the dispute.
“But let me say one thing: we have not surrendered a single inch of territory or a drop of our waters. Not by word or deed have we weakened our right to everything in the West Philippine Sea,” the outspoken secretary said.
“Without inviting pity by asking, we achieved an international consensus that right is with us and might cannot ever take it away. In the 21st century, the first incontestable and most significant victory at sea is Filipino,” he added.
Under his term, the Foreign Affairs department has “responded with protest” to “every intrusion,” Locsin said.
The secretary expressed that the next administration will continue to “protect our sovereignty all the way to the wire.”
“The irreducible template of what is constitutionally possible is there in black and white. Surrender of any portion of Philippine sovereignty is not an option. Not for love; not for money,” he said.