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Matagal na ‘yan! Palace refutes Carpio’s claim Duterte OK’d China’s reclamation in South China Sea

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Malacañang has refuted Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio’s claim that President Rodrigo Duterte practically gave China the “green light” to reclaim vast portions in the South China Sea with the soft position he took on the maritime dispute during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) meeting in Manila last April.

“With all due respect to the Senior Associate Justice, Chinese island-building and military deployment activities on certain features in the West Philippine Sea have been ongoing for some years now,” presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement Saturday (May 20).

Carpio said in a speech Friday (May 19) that China saw the absence of any statement from ASEAN about its reclamation or militarization of areas in the disputed waters as a sign to proceed.

Abella, however, said the country’s maritime row with China should ne interpreted as “the sum total of our relations” with Beijing.

“President Rodrigo R. Duterte maintains a two-track approach to our relationship with PROC; one, to grow our healthy economic, trade and investment relationships, and to ensure that our arbitral rights in the WPS (West Philippine Sea) are not compromised, more so now through the newly established bilateral consultation mechanism to manage disputes in the area,” he said.

Officials from China and the Philippines met for the first time on Friday in Guizhou, China as part of the bilateral consultative mechanism to settle the two countries’ maritime row.

In a speech in Davao City that day, Duterte said Chinese President Xi Jinping threatened to go to war if the Philippines proceeds to drill oil in the South China Sea.