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Experts tapped to plot PH action after ruling

The Philippine government has tapped experts to help review its next course of action after the country won the arbitration case against China’s sweeping claims in the West Philippine Sea.

President Duterte convened a Cabinet meeting “on how we should respond” and asked “some experts” to join the assembly in Malacañang last Tuesday, according to Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella.

Among the experts who attended the Cabinet meeting were Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and representatives from the Department of Justice and the Judiciary.

Abella said the government prefers to proceed “with caution” even as it welcomes the ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the arbitration.

“We welcome the ruling. However, we proceed with caution and with restraint and sobriety,” Abella said in an interview with reporters at the Palace.

“Now, whatever the results are, the legislative part has been done and so we are now awaiting for the right responses coming from the government. So I am sure that everything will be for the common good especially for those who are directly involved including the fishermen but let us wait for the right response at the right time,” he added.

Duterte has yet to issue a statement on the landmark ruling of the arbitration tribunal pending a review of the government’s next move.

The Cabinet meeting was called by the President shortly after the Permanent Court of Arbitration rejected China’s alleged historic rights over the contested waters within its “nine-dash line.” The Hagues-based arbitral tribunal claimed China was violating the Philippines’ sovereign rights with its operations in the area.

Abella said the Cabinet meeting was “upbeat and also very mature, responsible.” “There were some experts there,” Abella said.

He, however, declined to comment further on queries about the country’s relations with China and the status of the Filipino fishermen in the disputed area, among others, until the government’s position is released.