“Due to competing claims by China, four ASEAN member states, and Taiwan, the South China Sea is a potential flashpoint. Continuing militarization in the South China Sea poses serious challenge not only to the Philippines, but also to regional peace, stability and prosperity,” National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said at the Pilipinas Conference 2018 on December 7.
Secretary Lorenzana said that to pursue functional cooperation amid competing claims in West Philippine Sea, “the Duterte administration has pursued a calibrated, comprehensive, and constructive approach in engaging China.”
“It has focused on other aspects of our relations with China ans with other claimant countries,” he added.
“Contrary to some claims, this approach does not mean turning our back against the favorable arbitral tribunal ruling released in July 2016,” he noted.
“The Philippines continues to view the ruling as valid and legitimate. We have not and will never give up any part of our territory or sovereign rights over our EEZ and the Kalayaan Island Group,” Secretary Lorenzana said.