MANILA - Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday lauded President Rodrigo Duterte for rejecting attempts to undermine the Philippines’ victory in a 2016 ruling on the South China Sea during his first appearance at the UN General Assembly last week.
"Ang ganda noong speech," Robredo said in her weekly radio show.
(The speech was beautiful.)
The Vice President said she liked that Duterte finally asserted the Philippines' claims to the dsiputed waters, which the country had been waiting for since 2016.
"Noong nakuha natin ang arbitral ruling, hinihintay natin na mag-make ng statement iyong Pangulo na iyong ruling is a part of international law already. Hindi siya puwedeng maging subject of compromise. Hindi siya puwedeng maging subject of negotiation," Robredo said.
(When we won the arbitral ruling, we waited for the President to make a statement that the ruling is already part of international law. It can't be subjected to compromise. It cannot be the subject of negotiation.)
Robredo said she expects the administration to keep its commitment, citing other countries' relations with China that have deteriorated due to conflicting claims but haven't resulted to war.
"Ang nagpapakita nito, Indonesia saka Vietnam, na kahit tuloy-tuloy iyong economic relations nila with China, pagdating sa incursion sa kanilang territorial waters ay hindi sila pumapayag," Robredo emphasizerd.
(This is being shown by Indonesdia and Vietnam, that even though their economic relations with China continue, they won't allow incursions into their territorial waters.)
In a pre-recorded video message, Duterte told UN member states his administration was keeping its commitment to international agreements with the territorial row in the disputed waters, which the country also calls the West Philippine Sea.
“The Philippines affirms that commitment in the South China Sea in accordance with UNCLOS (UN Convention on the Law of the Seas) and the 2016 Arbitral Award,” he said.
Before Duterte became president, a 2016 decision on the arbitration case by the Permanent Court of Arbitration invalidated China’s “nine-dash line” claim over the entire South China Sea.
The case was brought to the international court by the Philippines, but China refused to participate and has always refused to acknowledge the victory.
Duterte has pursued warmer ties with China during his administration and has refrained from asserting rights to the territory amid China’s building of structures in artificial islands there.
In his last State of the Nation Address, Duterte said he was “inutile” over China’s claim of the territory, stressing that diplomatic relations should be pursued with the global power unless the country was ready to go to war.