Aussie minister questions Rody statements on sea row
Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - September 16, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has questioned President Duterte’s recent pronouncements that would not seem to reinforce the arbitration ruling favoring the Philippines in the South China Sea dispute.

Australia’s Financial Review quoted Bishop as saying she was informed of Duterte’s announcement that the Philippines, “as a claimant state” and as the country “that instigated” the arbitration, “will not be sending their ships into contested areas.”

“So the question should be directed to the Philippines as to what they are doing to reinforce the arbitration findings,” Bishop said in the article. 

Duterte said Tuesday he would not allow government forces to conduct joint patrols of disputed waters near the South China Sea with foreign powers and that he was also considering acquiring defense equipment from Russia and China.

Explaining his stand, Duterte said joint patrols with foreign powers like the United States and China could entangle the Philippines in hostilities.

“Well aren’t you surprised that the Philippines is now not going to traverse the territory that the arbitration has just found is in the Philippines EEZ (exclusive economic zone)? And that the arbitration found that China was in breach of the Philippines sovereignty?” Bishop asked.

“And now the Philippines have said they withdraw from those contested areas the arbitration has found were within the Philippines EEZ?” she added.

Bishop emphasized the Philippines “is a claimant state” when asked whether she was suggesting the Philippines to be more active in the South China Sea.

In July, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague ruled that China’s claim over the whole of the South China Sea using the “nine-dash line” did not have any legal basis. In particular, some islands occupied by China were declared to be within the country’s EEZ by the tribunal.

China has warned Australia to “cautiously behave” in a row over the South China Sea after Bishop called on Beijing to abide by the UN ruling and said Australia would continue freedom of navigation exercises.

Beijing said Australia must stay out of the South China Sea or risk damage to bilateral relations.




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