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No country can enforce Hague ruling—Palace

The Palace on Tuesday said the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling favoring the Philippines against China in the West Philippine Sea is “useless” for now as no country can enforce it, and saying there must be collective action from the nations to persuade China to respect The Hague ruling.

READ: Philippines called off Scarborough naval station

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said that no body, country, or entity in the world—not even the United States—can enforce the arbitral ruling.

“The arbitral ruling cannot be taken away from us, it will be there forever. But meanwhile, who will enforce it? There’s no power on earth that can enforce, the United States cannot, who will [not],” Panelo said in a press briefing Tuesday.

Panelo’s description of the ruling as “useless” was in response to a question about the role the decision played in the ongoing dialogue between the Philippines and China.

The Palace official, however, acknowledged that The Hague ruling “psychologically” benefited the country as it declares to the rest of the world that the Philippines has rights over some portions of the South China Sea.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who earlier set aside The Hague ruling in a bid to build stronger ties with Beijing, still vowed to raise bring the issue about the dispute over the South China Sea on the negotiating table before the end of his term.

The Palace official said the President plans to do this by asking China to “respect” the ruling as a neighbor of the Philippines. 

“It means that we will ask them to respect the decision because right now they [China] are not respecting it. They’re using might. It appears other countries are not helping us to enforce the same,” he said.

“I think every country in a similar situation will do that. There’s no doubt about it,” he added, saying that members of the United Nations should support the Philippines’ assertion over The Hague ruling.

“That is a given because we are part of the United Nations. Any decision coming from that entity will have to be supported by members of that organization. Perhaps if all the countries of the world will unite and pressure China, who knows?” he said. 

Panelo then reiterated that the country, under the Duterte administration, will never give up on its claim on the resource-filled territory.

“We cannot give up because it is already ours. The ruling is there. You cannot disown it. Nobody can take it away from you. But since it cannot be enforced, he [President Duterte] is using another tact to get what he wants,” he said.

Panelo then noted how the Philippines engaged China in negotiations to advance the country’s interest over the contested waters.

Meanwhile, Panelo said any joint oil exploration between the Philippines and China will undergo “judicial scrutiny” before it is signed by the two countries.

Earlier, opposition senators sought a Senate inquiry into the potential joint oil and gas exploration with China in the disputed West Philippine Sea.

“We assure [the people] that any agreement that we will enter into with a foreign government or entity would stand the judicial scrutiny of both countries and its constitutionality, if challenged, would be upheld,” Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo said it does not matter which country will prepare the draft of the joint exploration deal for as long as it will be reviewed thoroughly.

“If China drafts it… we have to review that. In the same manner that if we draft it, it will have to pass through them too,” he added.

Panelo said the Palace respects the Senate’s proposed inquiry into the joint oil exploration deal, but saaid the agreement will have to be signed first before it will be released to the public. With PNA

READ: Most Filipinos scoff at government inaction on WPS

Topics: Permanent Court of Arbitration , West Philippine Sea , The Hague , Salvador Panelo
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