Philippine chief justice corrects Duterte's South China Sea comments

Elias Hubbard
November 20, 2018

Sen. Sonny Angara said he hoped the President would discuss with Xi any possible partnership with respect to the West Philippine Sea "since relations seem to be going well the past few years".

The Chinese leader will depart Manila on Tuesday afternoon.

Malacañang said President Xi's visit to the Philippines is a "turning point" in both countries' histories, as this is his first state visit to the country and the first of its kind by a Chinese leader since 2005, reciprocating President Duterte's earlier visit to China.

"We have reopened the door of friendship and cooperation ... bringing real benefits to our peoples and making an important contribution to regional peace, stability and prosperity", Xi said in a statement issued after his arrival.

The territory that China does control accounts for "less than 8% of the total area of the South China Sea", noted Carpio, who was one of the lawyers who represented Manila in the arbitration at The Hague challenging China's South China Sea claims.

Drilon said he had yet to see the economic advantages of the Duterte administration's pivot to China.

The President, however, set aside the ruling to improve political and economic relations with China. Both Xi and Duterte have often been in the crosshairs of human rights groups.

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Xi will lead a wreath-laying ceremony at the Rizal Park in Luneta in the afternoon before proceeding to Malacañang for the welcome ceremony. Duterte and Abe signed the declaration during a bilateral meeting at the conclusion of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Singapore.

Xi has denied the Chinese loans could lead to "foreign debt trap". With the joint accord between Philippines and Japan, Carpio said it is now clear that the Duterte administration has finally asserted its rights over West Philippine Sea.

Locsin Jr. earlier said the focus of the visit will be the Philippines's joining China's Belt and Road Initiative, a massive trade and infrastructure project that aims to link Asia, Europe and Africa, covering at least 68 countries.

They also asked the Senate to call on the executive not to sign any agreement that would diminish the Philippines' exclusive right to explore, develop and use its natural resources.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague invalidated China's claim to almost all of the South China Sea in 2016 and recognized the Philippines' sovereign rights to fish and explore for resources in the West Philippine Sea.

It also invalidated China's nine-dash line claim to most of the South China Sea, which the senate resolution said was "unlawful and expansive". Chinese officials have asked Washington to back off from what they say is a purely Asian dispute, but the US has vowed to maintain a presence in the waters, where it has no claims but has vowed to continue naval patrols to promote freedom of navigation and overflight despite Chinese warnings. After the meeting, the two leaders will witness the signing or exchange of agreements between the two countries.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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