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Historic week for PH

With two highly anticipated events set to take place, this week will be very historic, a Malacañang official said yesterday.

An international court in The Hague, Netherlands is scheduled to release its ruling on the South China Sea issue or West Philippine Sea and President Duterte expected to sign an executive order on Freedom of Information.

“(This) week will be a very, very historic week for everybody,” Presidential Communications Office Secretary Martin Andanar said, noting that the United Nations Arbitration Court decision on the Philippines’ case against China over the WPS will be released tomorrow afternoon.

Duterte had earlier said he is willing to talk to China if the tribunal would issue a ruling in favor of the Philippines.

“On the West Philippine Sea, we remain optimistic that the judgment will be in our favor,” he said in one of his speech. “But if it’s not,” Duterte said, “then we will accept it as part of a country who honors international commitments that is by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.”

Andanar, when asked in an interview yesterday over State-run Radyo ng Bayan if the Philippines is willing to conduct joint exploration in the WPS, replied: “Let us wait for the decision and the Solicitor General will study this, then that’s the time we shall explore our next move.”

Pressed further on what are the government’s expectation on the UN ruling, Andanar said: “We approach this legally, iyon po ‘yung track natin.”

“Lahat ng argumento ng gobyerno ay nandun na sa The Hague. Now they will decide on July 12. Lalabas po ito ng alas singko ng hapon. Let’s just wait kung ano ang magiging decision,” he added.

Andanar said Duterte’s FoI EO is also expected this week. “There are also other announcements that we can look forward to like the President’s signing of the EO on Freedom of Information and other announcements from various departments in the Executive branch,” he said.

The President will sign the EO on FoI in keeping with his campaign promise to give greater public access to government documents in the interest of transparency and accountability.

He said if Congress was opposed to the measure, he would implement the FoI “progressively” in the Executive branch and that the media and the rest of the public are welcome “to dig deep into the papers.” (Elena L. Aben)

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