PLM rejoices over the tribunal ruling on the South China Sea and urges for continuation of bilateral and multilateral talks with China and other ASEAN countries
The ruling by the international arbitration tribunal that recognizes Philippine sovereignty over its exclusive economic zone and extended continental shelf in the West Philippine Sea is a political and moral victory for the Filipino people.
It gives the new government of Rodrigo Duterte an important leverage in its negotiations with China. It places the Philippines in a leadership position in the region, giving it the political authority to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the long-standing dispute over the Spratlys and other atolls and reefs in the West Philippine Sea in particular, and the South China Sea in general.
The PLM welcomes the Duterte government’s position of continuing with bilateral talks and negotiations with China despite calls by some to use the ruling to prepare for aggressive actions in the South China Sea with the assistance of the United States and other big foreign powers.
The Philippine government should be magnanimous with this victory by ensuring that the ruling is complied with by China and other countries through negotiations and talks, rather than through armed play which is detrimental to our country’s interest.
The key challenge for President Duterte is how to leverage this historic opportunity. This would require a framework based on:
— an unwavering commitment to de-escalate the tensions, war mongering, and related military interventions in the region in the name of protecting Philippine sovereignty;
— a reduction of militarization in the region, which includes reviewing all existing military agreements that contribute to the militarization, such as the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the United States government;
— the implementation of a genuinely independent foreign policy, distancing itself from the maneuvers of the major powers, especially of the United States, on which recent pronouncements by President Duterte criticizing the U.S. government’s ‘war on terror’ is a welcome indication in this regard; and
— the strengthening of bilateral talks with China and multilateral talks involving all other countries in the ASEAN region with ongoing claims at the South China Sea.
Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM)
July 15, 2016