MANILA, Philippines — The country’s top diplomat on Wednesday dismissed Vice President Jejomar Binay’s position that the country should resume bilateral talks with China on the sea row.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said Manila had exhausted all means to deal with Beijing directly in attempting to resolve or at least de-escalate the maritime tension at the West Philippine Sea.
“We are for bilateral talks, but we ran into a dead end in terms of using that approach,” Del Rosario said in a televised interview with ANC.
“In the case of Scarborough Shoal, we had over 50 bilateral engagements with them and that did not work because … in every bilateral meeting you have with China, unfortunately, [leads to their saying] to you, ‘We have indisputable sovereignty over the entire South China Sea’,” Del Rosario said.
With China’s unwillingness to drop its claim, the negotiations reached a deadlock.
“We thought at one point that we’ve tried everything and actually,” Del Rosario said.
The Philippines’ resort to a third-party settlement of the dispute, specifically through arbitration by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, is a core aspect of its “rules-based approach” to the regional bickering.