Palace vows caution, sobriety, restraint after ruling

Christina Mendez - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – After winning its maritime case against Beijing in an international court, the government is now studying its next step, which it vows to take with “caution, sobriety and restraint,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said yesterday.

Shortly after the ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague was announced on Tuesday, President Duterte gathered members of his Cabinet for a briefing on the development from Solicitor General Jose Calida, his predecessor Florin Hilbay and Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr.

National Security Adviser and former Armed Forces chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr. was also seen in the meeting.

Abella maintained that the Palace is still in the process of getting inputs from experts.

“Basically it is that; we welcome the ruling. However, we proceed with caution… with restraint and sobriety. Now, whatever the results are, the legislative part has been done, and so we are awaiting the right responses coming from the government,” he said.

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the decision is still being studied.

Abella said whatever move the government would make after the landmark ruling would be for the benefit of Filipinos, especially fishermen doing their livelihood in waters seized or coveted by China.

“So, I’m sure that everything will be for the common good, especially for those directly involved, including the fishermen, but let us wait for the right response at the right time,” he said.

Asked when the right time is, Abella said “when it unfolds that would be the right time.”

Asked to describe the mood at the Palace when the tribunal’s decision was announced, Abella said it was “upbeat and basically, very mature, very responsible.”

Abella did not say if the Chinese embassy communicated to the Palace its reaction to the court ruling.

Immediately after the ruling came out, the Palace said the President would withhold comment on the matter until after the release of a complete interpretation of the ruling by the solicitor general.

“We shall wait for the Solgen’s interpretation of the ruling. The Solgen shall provide the President a synopsis of the ruling and a complete and thorough interpretation in five days,” Andanar said.

New socioeconomic planning secretary Ernesto Pernia said the Duterte administration is still weighing the implications of engaging China in joint development or exploration in the West Philippine Sea.

The announcement of the ruling has triggered speculation that a joint oil exploration with China is in the works.

“The option is being carefully and studiously considered, but nothing definite,” Pernia said.

“The WPS (West Philippine Sea) decision and whatever comments from China or others are being thoroughly and meticulously studied and mulled over,” he added. – With Edu Punay, Paolo Romero, Jaime Laude, Czeriza Valencia, Jess Diaz

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