By ARGYLL B. GEDUCOS
Two years after the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in the Netherlands ruled in favor of the Philippines in its landmark arbitration case against China, Malacañang reassured the public yesterday that the government will continue to assert the country’s rights over the disputed portions of the South China Sea.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a briefing that the government will not give up the country’s rights to the South China which is also known as the West Philippine Sea.
“It is the second anniversary of our win in the arbitration before the Permanent Court of Arbitration and we assure the public that on the second year of the anniversary, we will continue to assert what is ours while we move on with our bilateral relations with China,” Roque said.
President Duterte has repeatedly assured the public that despite his policy to establish better relations with China, he will raise the arbitral ruling with Chinese President Xi Jinping within his term. He also said that the Philippines has filed several protests against China due to their actions on the disputed waters.
However, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay said there are groups planning to file a case before the Supreme Court to compel the Department of Foreign Affairs to reveal the diplomatic actions that the government took against China’s alleged militarization of the South China Sea to the public.
According to Roque, the public is free to file the said case before the SC and the government will be ready to answer.
“It’s a free country. They can file it and we will meet them in court. I do not know what else they want but in my briefings I go into some detail on what we have done,” he said.
Roque said that as far as protests are concerned, the government has been raising South China Sea issues with China in the bilateral mechanism between the two countries. He also said that Duterte has publicly protested in some instances.
He added that the government has also filed protests directly with the Chinese Embassy upon expressed direction by the President.
“So we have said all these. We are not hiding what we’ve been doing to protect our sovereignty and sovereign rights in the disputed areas of the West Philippine Sea,” Roque said. “He should file impeachment if he wants. He’s welcome, it’s a free country,” he added.