- President Rodrigo Duterte dismisses the arbitral victory of the Philippines against China
- Claiming that it is a mere piece of paper, the President said the so-called victory led to nothing
- On July 12, 2016, around two weeks after President Duterte was sworn into office, the Permanent Court of Arbitration handed its final ruling in favor of the Philippines
- The case was filed in January of 2013, around one year after the Scarborough Shoal standoff between the Philippine Navy and Chinese military vessels
President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday dismissed the arbitral victory of the Philippines, handed down by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague, which invalidates the claim of China’s nine-dash line calling it “without legal or historical basis.”
The Philippine Government, under the Aquino administration, filed the complaint against China in January 2013 after its alleged repeated incursions in the West Philippine Sea.
Almost a year before, the Philippine Navy and Chinese military vessels engaged in a standoff at Scarborough Shoal, with the latter claiming it as theirs under the now-invalidated nine-dash-line.
To avert a possible skirmish between the two opposing naval forces, the United States acted as a go-between and brokered a peace deal between China and the Philippines.
Both parties agreed to withdraw their forces from the disputed area. The Philippines honored its commitment but unfortunately, the Chinese naval forces did not.
To resolve the matter peacefully, the Philippines filed a case against China at the PCA. The international court handed a favorable ruling for the Philippines on July 16, 2016, about two weeks after President Duterte was sworn into office.
On August 29, 2016, President Duterte said he has decided to set aside the PCA ruling because he does not want to go to war with China.
Recently, the President dismissed the arbitral victory as a piece of paper. “Nag-file sila ng kaso, nanalo tayo. ‘Yang papel sa totoong buhay between nation, ‘yang papel ‘yan, wala ‘yan. Kung sino iyong tigas, United States, Britain ‘pag ginusto nila—“ President Duterte said in a pre-recorded speech.
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He also claimed that he tried to pursue the claims but nothing happened.
“Tapos sabi nila itong papel sa kaso nanalo tayo, i-pursue mo. Pinursue ko, walang nangyari. Actually sa usapang bugoy, sabihin ko sa ‘yo, bigay mo sa akin, sabihin ko, P***** *** papel lang ‘yan, itatapon ko ‘yan sa wastebasket,” the President said.
West Philippine Sea is the name designated by the Philippine government to describe a section of the South China Sea, particularly the eastern side, that are included in the Philippines' exclusive economic zone. The first use of the term "West Philippine Sea" by the Philippine government was as early as 2011, during the administration of President Benigno Aquino III. The naming was intended as a symbolic gesture to dispute China's sovereignty claim over the whole South China Sea.
In 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte said he will discuss the arbitral ruling over the West Philippine Sea in his official visit to China that year. He emphasized, however, that he does not want any dispute against China.
The President also wanted China to guarantee the safety of Filipinos in the West Philippine Sea. Duterte discussed the matter during the bilateral meetings with China in 2019. The Palace reiterated that a diplomatic protest was already filed against China.
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