President Rodrigo Duterte affirmed the Philippines’ arbitral victory against China in a 2016 ruling over the South China Sea before the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
“The Philippines affirms that commitment in the South China Sea in accordance with United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 2016 Arbitral Award,” Duterte said in a speech that was pre-recorded at the Malacañang Golf Clubhouse in Manila and aired early on Wednesday.
“The Award is now part of international law, beyond compromise and beyond the reach of passing governments to dilute, diminish or abandon,” he emphasised on his address to the 75th UN general assembly.
“We firmly reject attempts to undermine it,” he added.
In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague unanimously ruled in favour of the Philippines and rejected China’s sweeping claims over virtually the entire sea area.
China has consistently refused to acknowledge the 2016 ruling that invalidated its claim in the entire South China Sea.
Its reclamation activities and militarization in the heavily contested area have also raised concerns over peace and stability in the region.
Meanwhile, the President also thanked the countries that backed the Philippines’ arbitral victory.
“We welcome the increasing number of states that have come in support of the award and what it stands for — the triumph of reason over rashness, of law over disorder, of amity over ambition. This — as it should — is the majesty of the law,” Duterte said.
Recently, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany rejected China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea through a joint note verbale submitted to the UN.
It was the Duterte’s first time to address the UN.
Duterte was the 12th speaker during the first block of high-level debates after leaders of the United States, Russia, China, and the Republic of Korea, among others. (Source: INQUIRER.net)