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Palace: Duterte had previously invoked arbitration ruling against China

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By Prince Golez

Malacañang clarified on Monday that President Rodrigo Duterte had invoked the arbitral ruling on the South China Sea (SCS) disputed when he warned China not to touch Pag-asa Island.

“Effectively, in his previous statement earlier, when he said ‘Do not touch our property. If you do any harm to our soldiers, we will respond in kind’, that effectively has already made a very strong assertion of sovereignty and statement relative to the arbitral ruling,” according to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

At a PDP-Laban rally in Palawan on April 4, Duterte said he would ask the military to prepare for “suicide missions” if China seizes Philippine-occupied Pag-asa.

Asked if the Chief Executive will use the arbitral tribunal ruling card in negotiations with China on SCS-related issues during the Belt and Road forum, Panelo said: “That will be the President’s call.”

Both the Philippines and China, he added, should “forge mutually satisfactory solution” to the territorial conflict that is “based on the directives of each Constitution and the aspirations of the peoples of these two countries.”

In 2016, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines, nullyfying China’s massive claims to the resource-rich waterway.

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