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Philippines underscores 'neighborly relations' on Hague ruling anniversary

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, front, walks with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016. AP/Ng Han Guan

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government stressed that the country will remain "an enemy to none and a friend to all" a year after an international arbitral tribunal issued its ruling on the South China Sea dispute.

On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague, Netherlands issued a landmark ruling invalidating China's nine-dash line claim over the disputed waters.

In a statement released Wednesday, the Duterte administration reaffirmed its commitment to protect the country's territorial claims and maritime entitlements.

The government, however, stressed that the dispute in the West Philippine Sea should be resolved "in a manner consistent with the spirit of good neighbourly relations."

It should be noted that China refused to honor the award and insisted that they have indisputable sovereignty over the region.

The Philippine government insisted that the Duterte administration's pivot to a so-called independent foreign policy became a game changer on the region.

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"President Duterte's priority of regional peace and stability has led to the healthy environment of dialogue, cooperation and development," the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

The DFA also said that the administration's new approach has led to benefits for the country such as considerable economic gains.

For one, Filipino fishermen were granted access to Scarborough Shoal after being blocked by the Chinese Coast Guard for quite some time, the DFA said.

"We have received investment and financial assistance commitments upwards of $30 billion from our partners in the region," the statement read.

China has pledged $124 billion for its Silk Road plan forging a path of peace and free trade. The Philippines is already benefiting from Beijing's aid and assistance worth $24 billion, according to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.

US State of Secretary Rex Tillerson, however, had accused China of using its economic power to evade issues such as the South China Sea dispute.

As Association of Southeast Asian Nations chair, the Philippines also watered down its statement on the sea dispute, failing to mention militarization in the South China Sea.

The 10-member regional bloc had agreed to finish a framework on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

"Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alan Peter S. Cayetano reiterates that the Duterte administration is committed to its strategy to strengthen old allies and engage new partner nations," the DFA said.

RELATED: Analysis: The July 12 ruling exposed China’s strategy

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