By Junex Doronio
October 28, 2022
MANILA — In what could be seen as a follow-through on the earlier declaration of President Bongbong Marcos that he will never surrender even a square inch of the country’s territory, a senior United States defense official has urged that the Philippines must continue to speak out openly on the arbitral tribunal ruling that invalidated China’s excessive maritime claims in the South China Sea.
The Spratly island chain in the South China Sea — which was made a municipality of Palawan in 1978 by the President’s late father and namesake, former President Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr. through Presidential Decree No. 1596 — is believed to be rich in oil and mineral deposits.
“I will not preside over any process that will abandon even a square inch of the territory of the Republic of the Philippines to any foreign power,” PBBM said in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 25, 2022.
Apparently reminded by the President’s bold declaration, the US defense official who requested anonymity, said Philippine diplomats should publicly remind the international community of China’s unlawful claims and stress that its assertions have no basis under international law.
“It is important for Philippine diplomats just as American diplomats and diplomats in all countries to speak out openly to say that there is an international legal ruling that has validated many of the claims that Manila is making and what entitlements it has in the South China Sea,” GMA News quoted the defense official telling Filipino journalists in an interview at the Pentagon.
To recall, the arbitration decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration declared China’s historic claim over nearly the entire waters as illegal under a 1982 United Nations convention.
But China ignored the decision, calling it “ill-founded” and “naturally null and void.”
However, even if any ruling by the arbitral tribunal is legally binding, The Hague-based court has no enforcement power. (ai/mtvn)