THE Philippines will continue defending its legal win in the arbitral ruling concerning its long-standing sea disputes with China, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said Thursday, July 12.
Roque made the assurance in time for the second anniversary of the Philippines' victory against China's expansive territorial claims to the resource-rich South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).
The Palace official, however, said that the Duterte government would still keep its mended ties with China.
"We are not hiding -- what we’ve been doing to protect our sovereignty and sovereign rights in the disputed areas of the West Philippine Sea," Roque said in an interview with Palace reporters.
"We assure the public that on the second year of the annivesary, we will continue to assert what is ours while we move on with our bilateral relations with China," he added.
The Philippine government has won its historic case lodged against China when the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled on July 12, 2016 that Beijing has no basis to have sweeping claims to the busy waterway of the South China Sea.
President Rodrigo Duterte, however, has repeatedly declined to invoke the arbitral ruling, as he cautioned that taking an adversarial stance would only lead to the Philippines' potential "great loss."
China has likewise brushed aside the South China Sea ruling, as it continues to step up its military build-up in its articial islands in the contested waters.
Philippines 'not a province of China'
Meanwhile, tarpaulins dubbing the country as a "province of China" were spotted in several footbridges in Metro Manila early Thursday.
Roque believed that the "enemies of the government" were behind the banners.
"They are obviously propagating a lie that we have given up on our national territory. It's farthest from the truth," the Palace official said.
"It’s absurd and I’m sure it’s the enemies of the government behind it. So, to them: try again. you need a better gimmick than that," he added.
Roque also stressed that the government's critics seemed to have not "fully comprehend" the nature of arbitration.
He explained that the Philippines could not "enforce" the arbitral ruling since it is "clearly binding on the parties thereto."
"Whether or not China will acknowledge it, China is bound by it. Because that’s the nature of arbitration," he said. (SunStar Philippines)