MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines’ position on the South China Sea dispute stands: “What is ours is ours.”
Such was the pronouncement of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. after China welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte’s “standing order” to ban the Philippine Navy from joining maritime drills of other navies in the South China Sea.
Locsin, in a tweet on Thursday, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin is “reading too much into” a “simple directive” issued by the Chief Executive.
“We’re sitting out this one, we don’t know if we will the next one. Okay?” Manila’s top diplomat said, adding that the Philippines’ stand remains “consistent and clear.”
“What is ours is ours under the Arbitral Award and no one else can tell us differently. Our relations have been going really well. Let’s keep it that way,” Locsin said.
Manila and Beijing have long been locked in a maritime dispute. In 2013, the Philippines filed a case with the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague in The Netherlands challenging China’s sweeping claim of nearly the entire South China Sea.
The Hague-based court then ruled in favor of the Philippines in July 2016 invalidating China’s nine-dash line claim.
But China has repeatedly refused to recognize the ruling.
President Rodrigo Duterte has been criticized for setting aside the landmark 2016 arbitral ruling against Beijing’s mythical nine-dash line claim in the South China Sea.
Duterte also recently drew flak for saying that he was “inutile” and “cannot do anything” to counter China’s aggression in the South China Sea.