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Duterte to convene security council after Kerry meet to tackle Hague ruling

Senate President Koko Pimentel and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez are expected to take part in the security council meeting to be convened by President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday. Philstar.com/AJ Bolando
MANILA, Philippines — The territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) is expected to be discussed in two key engagements to be attended by President Rodrigo Duterte Wednesday.
 
Duterte will meet with United States Secretary of State John Kerry around noon in Malacañan to tackle ways to strengthen the relationship between Manila and Washington.
 
The meeting will happen two weeks after the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague ruled against China’s expansive territorial claim, which covers more than 90 percent of the South China Sea.
 
The ruling also awarded the Philippines sovereign rights over the Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, and Recto (Reed) Bank, areas off the western province of Palawan.
 
Kerry’s visit will also be held a week after a US congressional delegation paid a courtesy call on Duterte. During the meeting, Duterte reportedly assured the American lawmakers that he has no plan to trade the Philippines’s territorial rights to China.
 
 
Duterte had said he would take into account the interests of the Philippines’s allies in all talks with China.

'Delicate situation'

Three hours after his meeting with Kerry, Duterte will convene the National Security Council (NSC) also in Malacañan to tackle the implications of the Hague-based court’s ruling.
 
Duterte said the territorial row would be resolved through peaceful means but government forces should be ready for any eventuality.
 
“We are in [a] very delicate situation now and were now talking. There is an issue and there should be restraint. We are not seeking a conflict, at least it should not come from us but we should be prepared for any eventuality,” he told soldiers in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija Tuesday.
 
“Just like any country in the world, we have to have strong armed forces. We should have a military who can protect the people and the integrity of this republic,” he added.

Former presidents asked to join

The NSC is a collegial body led by the president and composed of around 35 leader-members from the executive and legislative branches of government. Previous presidents of the council are also included.
 
Former presidents Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Arroyo and Benigno Aquino III were invited to attend the meeting.
 
Other key officials who are expected to take part in the discussions are Vice President Leni Robredo, Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, the majority and minority leaders of both legislative chambers, the chairpersons of Senate and House committees involved in national security concerns and members of the Cabinet.
 
“The President will lead the NSC in a multipartisan dialogue in order to agree on vital policies and strategies on important matters, including the recent ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the West Philippine Sea,” a statement by the Presidential Communication Office said.
 
The security council meeting will be the first under the term of Duterte who assumed office last June 30. The NSC will also tackle the road map for peace and development by the presidential adviser on the peace process and updates on the campaign against illegal drugs.
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