MANILA— Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario on Thursday said it was a “national tragedy” that President Rodrigo Duterte considers the 2016 arbitral ruling that invalidated China’s excessive claims in the South China Sea a mere scrap of paper.
In a statement, Del Rosario said the country’s allies such as the United States, Australia, Japan, and the United Kingdom, among others, believe that the ruling by a United Nations-backed tribunal is “valid, binding and should be enforced against China pursuant to international law.”
The arbitration court had ruled in favor of Manila and junked Beijing’s claim to about 90 percent of the South China Sea, within which is the smaller West Philippine Sea — the country’s exclusive economic zone in the resource-rich waters.
Del Rosario was the Philippines’ top diplomat when it hailed China to court. The ruling came out shortly after Duterte became President. He has since pursued friendlier ties with China despite recurring incursions in the West Philippine Sea.