Robredo on PH’s maritime arbitration case vs China: 5 years of missed opportunities
MANILA, Philippines — “Five years of missed opportunities.”
This was how Vice President Leni Robredo described on Monday the fifth anniversary of the Philippines’ arbitration victory against China on its territorial rights in the West Philippine Sea.
“Today marks five years of missed opportunities regarding the West Philippine Sea,” Robredo said in a statement.
Robredo stressed that the Duterte administration has yet to fully utilize the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on July 12, 2016 to pursue the country’s national interests.
“Since then, national leadership has yet to fully flex the ruling as an instrument to pursue our national interests, failing to invoke it in strong enough terms in the forums that matter most,” Robredo said.
“Our fisherfolk remain unable to enter areas that have been the source of livelihood for generations of Filipinos. Alliances that could have been strengthened were allowed to erode, while those who bully their way into our waters have been treated with deference, and at times, subservience. The dream of a regional architecture founded on respect and mutual prosperity has become even more elusive,” she noted.
But the ruling, said Robredo, is already a definitive part of international law.
“It cannot be erased from the history books, and cannot be denied despite the unending lies spewed forth by a formidable machinery of disinformation,” she added.
She emphasized that “filing the case before the tribunal—standing up for what is right, against the economic and military might of a world power—yielded the admiration and respect of the entire world.”
“Today’s commemoration is a reminder, a challenge, and a promise: That if only we can remember, if only we can unite, if only we can rediscover our spirit and once again stand for what is right— we will find, beneath the rubble of cowardice and neglect, our courage, our dignity, and our national pride,” the Vice President said.
President Rodrigo Duterte in May called the victory of the Philippines over China at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague as a mere “piece of paper,” to be thrown away.
He said in Filipino that “that paper, in real life, between nations, is nothing.”
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