AUSTRALIAN Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Wednesday questioned President Rodrigo Duterte over his decision not to enforce the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration rejecting China’s claims over most of the South China Sea.
She said that was despite the fact that it was the Philippines that initiated the case against China, which has been building structures in the area and driving away Filipino fishermen.
Bishop expressed surprise over Duterte’s decision after Duterte declared that the Philippines would no longer join US patrols to the contested areas of the South China Sea.
“I have been informed that the President of the Philippines has announced that the Philippines, as a claimant state and as the state that instigated the arbitration, has announced that the Philippines will not be sending their ships into contested areas,” Bishop was quoted by the Australian Financial Review as telling reporters in Canberra.
“So the question should be directed to the Philippines as to what they are doing to reinforce the arbitration findings.”
Australia, one of the countries with which the Philippines has special ties, has already attracted the wrath of Beijing for calling for China to abide by the recent Hague ruling after supporting the Philippines’ right to take the case to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the first place.
Bishop said she was surprised by Duterte’s latest position.
“Well, aren’t you surprised that the Philippines is now not going to traverse the territory that the arbitration has just found is in the Philippines’ EEZ [exclusive economic zone]? And that the arbitration found that China was in breach of the Philippines sovereignty?
“And now the Philippines have said they withdraw from those contested areas that the arbitration has found were within the Philippines EEZ?”
Asked whether she was suggesting the Philippines should be more active in the South China Sea, she said, “Well, the Philippines is a claimant state.”
Earlier, Duterte ordered an end to the joint US-Philippine patrols in the South China Sea.
“We will not join any expedition or [be] patrolling the sea. I will not allow it because I do not want my country to be involved in a hostile act,” Duterte told members of the Philippine Air Force at Villamor Air Base earlier this week.
“I do not want to ride gung-ho style there with China or with America. I just want to patrol our territorial waters.”