Diplomacy still best in maritime dispute with China, Palace says
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Sunday said the government would stick to diplomacy in resolving the country’s maritime disputes as it scored the “illegal, impractical and irresponsible” statements of former Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and ex-Foreign Secretary Alberto del Rosario.
President Rodrigo Duterte “knows that, as a responsible member of the world community, the Philippines must pursue its claims by legal and diplomatic means,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement on Sunday.
“It is a fact that the Philippines has territorial and maritime claims and entitlements in the West Philippine Sea. However, it is also a fact that our claims and entitlements are disputed by other states,” he said.
“International law requires that we promote our claims and entitlements, and we manage and resolve our disputes, through peaceful and legal means. All of these means start and end with negotiation,” he said.
Roque also questioned Carpio’s and Del Rosario’s “fiery” statements, saying “they were wrong based on the law and the facts.”
‘What presidents must do’
“Justice Carpio and Secretary Del Rosario should know better. They do know better. Therefore, they should stop misleading and endangering our people with illegal, impractical, and irresponsible statements,” he said.
“They should leave international relations to the one who has the foresight, information, and constitutional mandate to make sound foreign policy decisions,” Roque added.
But Del Rosario on Sunday released an open letter to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, who earlier criticized him for blaming Mr. Duterte for the West Philippine Sea controversy when he was foreign secretary during the previous administration.
“It is because this is what presidents must be relied upon to do … To defend what is ours is also found in our Constitution,” Del Rosario said in his open letter.
Medialdea, chair of the National Coast Watch Council, noted how officials of the previous administration orchestrated the filing of the arbitral case upon the advice of the United States but found no means to enforce the subsequent ruling.
Mr. Duterte himself said: “That was during your time. It was your time when you were still in position. If you’re bright, why did we lose it? Now it’s China who’s holding it. And it’s me you’re pressuring to find a solution.”
Ruling can be enforced
But Del Rosario reiterated that the arbitral ruling can be enforced by seeking the support of Western nations. “We trust that their support is being consolidated,” Del Rosario said.
Del Rosario argued that the Philippines can also submit the case before the UN General Assembly to compel China to abide by the rule of law.
Without naming names, Del Rosario also took a swipe at Sen. Bong Go, who earlier lambasted Carpio and Del Rosario for their “arrogance, claiming to be brave.”
“Why are we being depicted as cowards yet wanting to be seen as being brave? Mr. Secretary, I assure you I am not brave nor am I a coward,” he wrote Medialdea.
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