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Tama si PNoy! Duterte admits arbitration vs. China was smart but…

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In a rare occurrence, President Rodrigo Duterte praised his predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, for pursuing the arbitration case against China before an international tribunal but said now isn’t the time to press on the ruling.

Fresh from attending the APEC Summit in Vietnam, Duterte told reporters Sunday (November 12) that there will be a time when he will bring up the arbitral ruling over the South China Sea with China “minus everybody.”

“Kasi tayo lang ‘yung pumunta sa korte. Tama ‘yung ginawa ni Aquino. No doubt about it. Tama si [Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio] Carpio,” he said in a press briefing at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

“But what will happen if they would also start filing cases now before the arbitration as against the any number of countries, the five or six remaining? You think we can handle it? And if we win, still, can we enforce it?” he asked.

The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration, in a landmark ruling released last year, invalidated China’s sweeping claim over the South China Sea.

It was during Aquino’s term that the arbitration case against China was pursued.

Duterte maintained that his decision not to bring up the ruling in talks with China does not mean he is surrendering anything.

“It is not time for aggression, it is not time for violence. We have so many problems domestic to take care of before we start to venture on some sort of an aggressive stand,” he said.

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