'Philippines' case vs China will stand forever'

Pia Lee-Brago - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines’ victory in the arbitration case against China over the South China Sea will stand forever and the government should not weaken the protection that a rules-based system provides amid Beijing’s continued aggressiveness in the disputed seas, the country’s former top diplomat has underscored.

“We cannot forget what the Philippines has gained from the tribunal outcome and may still hope to gain, through desired leadership, from the protection of the rules-based system. It must be realized that we cannot weaken that protection by picking and choosing when to promote the law and when to ignore it,” former foreign affairs secretary Albert del Rosario said during Thursday’s launching of Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio’s e-book titled “The South China Sea Dispute: Philippine Sovereign Rights and Jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea” at the Manila Polo Club in Makati City.

Del Rosario said China’s aggressiveness has not ceased as Beijing prevented the Philippines from carrying out even the most basic exploration and exploitation activities in areas where only “the Philippines has rights” and which “The Hague tribunal, working in a neutral and independent manner, affirmed in last year’s ruling.” 

According to Del Rosario, the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling was not only an achievement of Philippine foreign policy, but is a stellar contribution in defense of the rule of law in managing international relations.

Del Rosario said China is still seeking to enforce its “nine-dash line” to create a “Berlin Wall of the Sea” or a giant fence in the South China Sea.

He said China suffocated marine life and habitat, erected military bases and prevented fishermen from pursuing their livelihood and providing sustenance. 

Del Rosario stressed the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries surrounding the waters of the South China Sea are grappling with increasing pressures, even as they pursue sincere cooperation and ensure the proper protection of the sea’s important resources and of oceangoing heritage. – With AP

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