Amid the result of a recent poll showing that 8 in 10 Filipinos want the country to assert its right on the disputed seas, the Philippine government said that it is not giving up on the issue, but just taking a “soft landing” approach.
The Philippine government is not giving up its sovereign rights over disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea, a Palace official said on Friday.
“What the President is doing is asserting it but in a different diplomatic style,” Abella told reporters in a Palace briefing on Friday.
Abella made the statement after a Pulse Asia poll showed that 84 per cent of the surveyed Filipinos believed the government should assert its claim over the disputed sea as stated on the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
The Palace official quoted a statement of Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana saying the government has chosen a “soft landing” approach in dealing with the issue after the July 12 decision of the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration favouring the Philippine diplomatic protest against China.
“If you remember, when the ruling was promulgated in July 12, we got a lot of bragging from countries that we should forcefully assert the ruling in favour of the Philippines. But our government chose instead to have soft landing. The President chose to have bilateral talks with the Chinese government, which gave us some advantage,” Abella quoted Lorenzana as saying.
“The President has said that he is not giving up our claims in the EEZ [exclusive economic zone] according to UNCLOS [United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea]. It just so happens that the Chinese government has reclaimed three of the islands there and they also have a presence in Scarborough,” he added, still quoting the defence chief.
President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly said in his public speeches that he would not wage a war with China over the maritime dispute, saying he would seek “soft landing” in dealing with the issue.
In October, Duterte embarked on a four-day state visit to China, engaging on a bilateral talk with President Xi Jinping.
This article appeared on the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper website, which is a member of Asia News Network and a media partner of The Jakarta Post