Malacañang on China claiming WPS islands: We have arbitral decision

“Eh posisyon po nila iyan ‘no pero tayo po mayroon tayong arbitral decision,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said during May 22 press briefing in Malacañang when asked to react on China’s latest statement that it owns West Philippine Sea/South China Sea islands.

“Kaya nga mayroong dispute eh. Eh ‘di kapag hindi nila sinabing hindi sa kanila iyon at sa Pilipinas iyon eh ‘di wala ng dispute; but we have also said that what is ours is ours,” he added.

Roque added that the position of the Philippine government regarding the arbitration ruling “is that the arbitral tribunal is evidence that it is built on waters which form part of our EEZ (exclusive economic zone) and only the Philippines has sovereign rights to construct those islands.”

He added that the arbitral award is clear that nine-dash line has no legal basis.

“Just because we have not said anything in that regard, does not mean we are not doing anything. That’s covered by what the DFA says, that we can’t publically announce what we are doing, but you know it goes without saying that that possibility is there, that we’re quietly working with our ASEAN neighbors especially those with similar claims and an overwhelming number of us in fact within ASEAN have claims. In fact all the claimants except for China are fellow ASEAN countries,” Roque explained

“The South China Sea Islands are China’s territory,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang said during May 21 briefing. China is claiming both Spratly and Paracel Islands.