Duterte admin never shelved arbitral ruling: Palace

The Duterte administration never shelved the arbitral ruling won by the Philippines at The Hague, Malacañang said Sunday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo refuted the statement made by former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario after he urged President Rodrigo Duterte to “unshelve” the country’s arbitral victory.

“In the first place, this administration never shelved the arbitral ruling,” Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo described Del Rosario’s call to implement the 2012 arbitral ruling as “pretended patriotism” and blamed him for the country’s loss of ownership of the Scarborough Shoal during the previous administration.

“Mr. Del Rosario, being responsible for the loss of the country’s possession of the Scarborough Shoal during his stint as Foreign Affairs Secretary by naively causing the withdrawal of our armed ship in the area of conflict, certainly cannot put forward his pretended patriotism and feigned righteousness as if he has not contributed vastly to the unwelcome situation we are presently in,” Panelo said.

Panelo, however, emphasized that the arbitral ruling remains “unenforceable” since other states have not helped the Philippines enforce it and neither can the country enforce it alone.

He emphasized anew that the Philippines could not afford a war with China.

“It only remains unenforceable because no foreign force seems persuaded to help us enforce it, and neither do we have the capability of enforcing it alone by force, not to mention the fact that performing armed acts of enforcement could only trigger a bloody war that could cost the lives of our countrymen and destruction of properties in our land,” Panelo said.

Panelo said assuming the current administration has temporarily shelved the ruling, its recent aggressive statements against Chinese activity near Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea “effectively removed it from the shelf by virtue.”

“The fact of invoking the arbitral ruling in our latest statement as well as asserting our sovereignty on our territory and right over our exclusive economic zone in response to an official statement from the Chinese government reiterating its claim of ownership and sovereignty over the disputed areas, effectively removed it from the shelf by virtue of such invocation and assertion,” Panelo said.

Panelo, meanwhile, reiterated the country’s “unchanged stance” that the arbitral ruling is has a “stamp of permanence.”

“The arbitral ruling is irreversible, the same being based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and international law accepted by most, if not by all, nations,” Panelo said.

He urged the Chinese government to respect the ruling and expressed hope that bilateral negotiations between the countries forge a mutually satisfactory solution to the conflict based on internationally accepted principles.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) earlier said that the Philippines has already filed a “salvo of diplomatic notes” against China and is currently waiting for its response. PNA