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Duterte, Aquino, Arroyo, Estrada, Ramos meet over Hague ruling

President Rodrigo Duterte leads the first meeting of the National Security Council at Malacañang on Wednesday, July 27, 2016. Joining the meeting are the four former presidents Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Benigno Aquino III. PPD

MANILA, Philippines — The five most recent presidents of the Philippines met on Wednesday for a national security meeting to discuss the recent decision on the Philippines's case against China.

President Rodrigo Duterte convened the National Security Council at Malacañan with former presidents Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Benigno Aquino III.

Upon his arrival, Aquino skipped shaking hands with Arroyo, who was released last week from hospital detention after being acquitted from plunder charges by the Supreme Court. Arroyo had cried foul over what she deemed as political persecution under Aquino's watch in the cases filed against her before the Sandiganbayan.

Joining the meeting were Duterte's Cabinet officials as well as newly elected Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

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The Presidential Communications Office had said the meeting was 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."

The Philippines scored a sweeping legal victory from the landmark ruling against China issued on July 12. The arbitration case was filed and heard by an arbitral tribunal under the United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea during the administration of Aquino.

Duterte's meeting was the first with the national security council, a collegial body from executive and legislative branches of government. — Camille Diola based on reports by Alexis Romero

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