Can you still remember what President Rodrigo Duterte said about the South China Sea dispute when he was still running for the Presidency? Here is an excerpt of his statement:
”I will not waste the lives of Filipinos. I will ask the Navy to bring me the nearest point [in South China Sea] that is tolerable to them and I will ride a jet ski. I’ll carry a flag and when I reach Spratlys, I will erect the Filipino flag. I will tell them (Chinese), suntukan o barilan?”
Sad to say, we will no longer witness this historic moment because it will not happen in the future.
President Rodrigo Duterte no longer needs to ride a jet ski to Spratlys. Philippines just won the South China Sea arbitration case against China. The Spratly Islands and the reefs surrounding the region are being claimed by China in the past. According to China, the Spratly Islands and the surrounding regions fall under their nine-dash line.
In the ruling, the United Nations (UN) Arbitral Tribunal says otherwise. According to the Award issued on Tuesday, the Philippines has exclusive sovereign rights over West Philippine Sea in the South China Sea. The Tribunal also emphasized that China’s claims on the territory that falls within their nine-dash line rule is invalid and has no legal basis. China was absent throughout the entire duration of the proceedings and continues to refuse to recognize the case.
The Tribunal also said that China has violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its EEZ when they interfered with fishing and petroleum exploration, constructed artificial islands and failing to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the region.
Meanwhile in Malacañang, President Rodrigo Duterte called a cabinet meeting to discuss about the UN ruling. Presidential Communication Secretary Martin Andanar said that the UN ruling would be studied further by Solicitor General Jose Calida. Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella also emphasized that they will still study the UN ruling before releasing a public statement.
So, let’s just wait for the government’s official public statement on their decision.
Soon, we might be having flights to Spratlys just like what this Facebook user jokingly posted: