Business World

Attempts to erase victory in sea row with China rejected

- — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

THE COUNTRY’S top envoy on Wednesday rejected attempts to undermine a 2016 ruling by an internatio­nal tribunal voiding China’s claim to more 80% of the South China Sea.

“We firmly reject attempts to undermine it, nay, even erase it from law, history and our collective memories,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. said in a statement on the fifth anniversar­y of the ruling.

The arbitral ruling favoring the Philippine­s in the sea dispute is final, he added..

Mr. Locsin said the arbitral award “was given to a set of maritime circumstan­ces that would be as true in our waters as in others.”

The Philippine­s has filed several diplomatic protests against China due to its continued presence in the South China Sea within the country’s exclusive economic zone.

Mr. Locsin said that the arbitral award “became and continues to be a milestone in the corpus of internatio­nal law.”

“It is available to other countries with the same problemati­c maritime features as ours,” he said. “It puts one issue out of the way of conflict; because there is nothing there taken by force that results in any gain in law.”

The jurisprude­nce a Philippine gift to other countries and “benefits the world across the board.”

“We do not see it as directed at any other country, near or far. We see it as it should be seen, as favoring all which are similarly situated by clarifying definitive­ly a legal situation beyond the reach of arms to change. It puts this aspect of internatio­nal law beyond the limit of prescripti­on,” he said.

Mr. Locsin said the country is committed to having a peaceful South China Sea.

“For as long as nations abide by the rule of law and not of military might, the award is the

North Star that will keep us on course in the present, and that will point us back to the right direction in the future should we, in a moment of weakness or inaction, lose our way,” he said.

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