Duterte assured us tribunal ruling non-negotiable - US senator
(philstar.com) - July 20, 2016 - 12:05am
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines would not yield its territorial rights in the West Philippine Sea to China, President Rodrigo Duterte said as he vowed to stick to the ruling of the international tribunal on the maritime row. 
Duterte gave the assurance during the courtesy call on Tuesday of a US congressional delegation in Malacañan Palace, an American lawmaker who was present during the meeting said.
“Just out of a meeting with new Philippines President Duterte. (He) assured us he has no plans to negotiate with China over islands dispute,” Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy said in a Twitter post.
“We were first US elected officials to meet with Duterte. (He) says he will not trade territorial rights to China. Tribunal decision non-negotiable,” he added.
Malacañang has yet to release a statement confirming Murphy’s Tweets as of Tuesday evening.
The courtesy call happened exactly a week after the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague ruled that China’s claim of historic rights in about 90 percent of the resource-rich South China Sea has no legal basis.
The historic ruling also awarded the Philippines sovereign rights over the Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, and Recto (Reed) Bank, areas that are also covered by China’s nine-dash line territorial claim.
The 497-page decision did not award sovereign rights to the Philippines over the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal off Zambales as the area was declared a “traditional fishing ground” for several countries.
Aside from Murphy, other US lawmakers who called on the president were Sen. Brian Schatz, Congressman Ted Deutch, Congresswoman Donna Edwards and Congressman John Garamendi. US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg was also present during the meeting.
Philippine officials who attended the meeting were Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr., Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and Defense Assistant Secretary Raymund Jose Quilop.
“Upon entering the President’s Hall, President Duterte welcomed the first time visitors in the group and asked them about the places they want to visit in the Philippines,” a Malacañang statement said. 
Last week, Duterte asked former President Fidel Ramos to talk to Chinese officials, saying the Philippines would continue to resolve the dispute through diplomatic means
“War, it’s not an option,” Duterte said during a testimonial dinner reception organized by the San Beda College Alumni Association in Club Filipino last July 14.
“(We will go for) peaceful talks. I cannot give you the wherewithal now. I want to consult many people including President Ramos… I would like to respectfully ask him to go to China and start the talks,” he added.
Ramos said he is qualified for the job but admitted that he might be too old for it.
In the same event, Duterte said he would not want to offend the US, a treaty ally of the Philippines. The US has promised not to take sides in the South China Sea row but has criticized China’s expansion in disputed areas.
“We have identified ourselves allied with the western powers. So there’s an interest which we should not forget. Our interest and the interest of our allies,” Duterte said.

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