No bargaining on West Philippine Sea, Duterte says

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/16 October) — There’s “no bargaining” on the West Philippine Sea, said President Rodrigo R. Duterte, who vowed that the country will continue “to insist that it is ours.”

Duterte said this before leaving for state visits to Brunei and China on Sunday at the F. Bangoy International Airport where he maintained that he will stick to the decision of the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea in The Hague that upheld the Philippines’s position.

Duterte left for Brunei Sunday afternoon and from there will proceed to China on October 18 to 21 to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

He said he would be careful not to give in during his meeting with the Chinese president.

“We will stick towards our claim. We do not bargain anything though. We continue to insist that it’s ours and that the Tribunal, the international decision will be taken up but there will be no hard impositions,” the President said.

“We will talk and we will, maybe paraphrase everything in the judgment and set the limits of our territories, the special economic zones. .. No bargaining there.. No bargaining of our territories whether within the 12 or 200 (nautical miles). It will remain a special concern and I will be very careful not to bargain anything for after all I cannot give what is not mine and which I am not empowered to do by any sketch of imagination.”

Duterte reiterated he wants to resolve the territorial dispute with China by peaceful means.

“Remember that we only have two options, we go to trouble or we talk,” he said.

The International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea in The Hague, the Netherlands ruled the Philippine’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) over China’s historic nine-dash line claim that borders the former’s maritime territory in a decision last July 12, 2016.

“China’s claims to historic rights, or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction, with respect to the maritime areas of the South China Sea encompassed by the relevant part of the ‘nine-dash line’ are contrary to the Convention and without lawful effect to the extent that they exceed the geographic and substantive limits of China’s maritime entitlements under the Convention; and further declares that the Convention superseded any historic rights, or sovereign rights or jurisdiction, in excess of the limits imposed therein,” the court ruled. (Antonio L. Colina IV/ MindaNews)