President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday stressed anew at the United Nations (UN) the importance of Manila’s historic arbitral victory against Beijing’s maritime claims in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
Speaking at the 76th session of the UN general assembly, the President said China’s refusal to acknowledge the 2016 ruling of The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration won’t diminish its worth.
“No amount of willful disregard by any country, however big and powerful, can diminish the arbitral award’s importance,” he told the international body through a pre-recorded video message.
Duterte also emphasized that the 2016 award and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea provide a “clear path towards a just, fair, and win-win solution for all”.
“The award must be seen for what it is — a benefit across the board to all who subscribe to the majesty of the law,” the President added.
As he conveyed his firm message before the UN, he reiterated the need for peaceful and diplomatic negotiations on international disputes, saying provocative acts would only trigger hostilities among claimants.
“We must resolve disputes peacefully, as we manifested in the Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes,” he said, referring to a declaration approved by the UN assembly in 1982.
China has repeatedly ignored the 2016 ruling — which junked its sweeping claims in the WPS and upheld Manila’s sovereign rights in the area — as it maintained an aggressive posture in the resource-rich waterway.
This was the second time Duterte cited the Philippines’ arbitral win against China before a roster of world leaders that included Chinese President Xi Jinping.
He first raised the issue at the 2020 general assembly, where he noted that the award was now part of international law and described it as “beyond compromise”.
Apart from the Philippines and China, other Asian countries such as Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam have also been claiming ownership of areas in the WPS.