South China Sea ruling must be respected: Philippines

Colouring-booksManila, (IANS) Philippines authorities on Thursday said that the ruling by the Hague’s Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in favour of Manila over its South China Sea dispute with China must be respected, an official statement said.

The statement also outlined the issues Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay is set to discuss during the upcoming Asia-Europe summit (ASEM) on Friday and Saturday in Mongolia, EFE news reported.

“Secretary Yasay will discuss within the context of ASEM’s agenda the Philippines’ peaceful and rules-based approach in the South China Sea and the need for parties to respect the recent decision,” the department of foreign affairs said in the statement.

Manila has reacted cautiously to Tuesday’s ruling, calling for “restraint and sobriety,” and said it will not respond to it till the country’s experts have analysed it carefully.

On Wednesday, presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the Philippine administration is preparing the “right response at the right time,” local daily Inquirer reported.

“I’m sure that everything will be for the common good, especially for those who are directly involved,” he added.

In January 2013, the Philippines had filed a complaint before the PCA alleging that China, which had begun its expansion in several areas of the South China Sea region, was occupying territories that belonged to the Philippine exclusive economic zone.

The court announced its decision on the conflict that centres on the Scarborough atoll and part of the Spratly Islands – a group of more than 750 reefs, islets, atolls and cays whose total or partial sovereignty is also being claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam – after more than three years of judicial process.

Tension in the South China Sea has increased in recent years with governments trading constant accusations and a rise in Chinese military presence in the area.

The Philippines has also signed strategic agreements with the US, Japan and Vietnam to counter China’s presence in the area.

China has condemned the outcome and has refused to recognise the ruling.

Medaram Jathara

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