Top diplomat refuses to bring up sea row to UN after 3 more countries oppose China claim

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 18 2020 01:00 PM | Updated as of Sep 18 2020 04:06 PM

DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. during a Senate committee hearing, Feb. 4, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA -- Manila's top envoy on Friday refused again to raise before the United Nations the Philippines arbitral victory in South China Sea over Beijing, whose claim was rejected recently by France, Germany, and the UK. 

The 3 Western countries on Wednesday lodged a note verbale with the UN saying that China's supposed “historic rights” over the resource-rich waters “do not comply” with international law and and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). 

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin said it was "not right" to raise the matter before the UN General Assembly "where numbers talk." 

"Imagine if I had brought the matter up in the UN General Assembly where numbers talk and not right as suggested by idiots," he said on Twitter. 

China refuses to acknowledge a UN-backed court's 2016 ruling that junked its claims to about 90 percent of the South China Sea, including those claimed by the Philippines. 

Locsin, as quoted in media reports, previously said the Philippines would "lose" if it brought the matter to the UN because it is "dominated by countries grateful to China for its indisputable generosity in development aid."

Locsin was Manila’s permanent representative to the UN before his stint in Duterte’s Cabinet. 


NOTE VERBALE 'A WARNING TO CHINA': CARPIO 

The note verbale of the UK, France and Germany "serves as a warning to China that it cannot draw straight baselines around distant offshore islands or archipelagos since China is not an archipelagic state," said Former Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio. 

"The Joint Note Verbale asserts the rights to innocent passage and to freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea in accordance with UNCLOS," added Carpio, a key architect of the South China Sea arbitration. 

The US and Australia earlier issued similar statements of support, he noted. 

"The Filipino people should be deeply thankful to these countries for supporting the arbitral award and ensuring that the rule of law will prevail in the oceans and seas of our planet," he said in a statement, 

International trade worth trillions of dollars passes through the South China Sea every year. 

President Rodrigo Duterte, since he assumed office in 2016, has adopted a friendlier stance towards China despite unresolved maritime disputes. His term has seen an increase in Chinese investments to the Philippines, including the rise of mostly Chinese-run gambling hubs that drove up the arrival of Chinese nationals. 

During his 5th State of the Nation Address, Duterte said he was "inutile" and "cannot do anything" against Beijing's pursuit of territory and resources in the South China Sea.

The Philippines should "just cool off" and pursue "diplomatic endeavors" to counter China's sweeping claims to the area "unless we are prepared to go to war," Duterte had said.


-- With a report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News