Malacañang on Thursday stood by the arbitral ruling that invalidated China’s expansive claim to the South China Sea after Beijing’s envoy said their position on the matter remained the same.
Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua indicated last week that Beijing will continue to not recognize the Philippines’ victory at The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration which President Rodrigo Duterte is set to personally raise with Chinese President Xi Jinping later this month.
The 2016 ruling clarified Manila’s maritime entitlements in the resource-rich waterway which Beijing claims it has indisputable sovereignty over.
In response, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said, “And neither are we changing our position, too.”
“But it doesn’t mean that as friends, we cannot discuss that issue. It has to be discussed, that is precisely why there is a mechanism for negotiation,” he said at a news conference.
“There are things we can agree upon, there are differences that we may not. But that does not preclude both countries to raise that issue and discuss amicably.”
Panelo said Duterte “will not alter his position on the matter in the same way that the Chinese government as it says will not.”
He added that he has already relayed the Philippine government’s position to Zhao through a text message. He said Zhao responded by inviting him to a “working dinner.”
On August 8, Duterte told reporters that he will insist on the Philippines’ sovereign rights over its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea when he meets Xi later this month.
Duterte said he would also press Chinese leaders on a Code of Conduct among countries that have claims in the disputed waters, something that he said China could be delaying.
The President also said he would also raise the planned joint exploration of natural resources in the disputed waters and the June 9 incident involving Filipino and Chinese vessels in Recto Bank.