Duterte-Xi meeting may lead to acceleration of S. China Sea code: ex-diplomat

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 29 2019 08:39 AM | Updated as of Aug 29 2019 09:08 AM

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MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte's raising of the 2016 arbitral ruling against China in his fifth visit to Beijing may accelerate the signing of the code of conduct in the disputed South China Sea, a former diplomat said Thursday.

Chinese development at the newly reclaimed Fiery Cross Reef, which lies on the west side of the Spratly Islands. Photo by CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative / DigitalGlobe

Former Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Cuisia Jr. said China would still not acknowledge the Hague ruling, which invalidates its sweeping claims in the disputed sea.

"I’m sure China is not gonna budge in their position. They will not respect the ruling, but it could lead to the acceleration of the signing of the binding code of conduct," he told ANC's Early Edition.

"That would not only satisfy the Philippines, but also ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)."

The President's raising of the arbitral ruling in his bilateral meeting with his Chinese counterpart will "score him positive points with the Filipino people," according to Cuisia.

"He knew that if he was going to bring it up towards the end of his term, people would not even give it any value," he said.

"But if he does now he can say I did my part and I did it way before end of my term."

Aside from the arbitral ruling and South China Sea code, Duterte is expected to discuss with Xi Jinping the two nations' possible joint exploration for oil and gas and raise the increasing number of Chinese warships in Philippine waters.

Ahead of Duterte's visit, the owner of the Chinese ship that rammed into an anchored Filipino boat near Recto Bank apologized Wednesday to the Filipino fishermen.

Cuisia said he does not accept the apology but it was a "good step" and the Filipino crew must receive compensation.

He added that he would join the group that will question the constitutionality of the possible joint exploration.

"Why should they share in the resources that should belong to the Filipino people?" he said.

"We can get other some foreign firms that can do the technical part but the Filipino people benefit from our own natural resources."