Malacanang reacts to China’s comment on South China issue

The Palace responded to China’s statement saying the international arbitral tribunal hearing the case filed by the country is “bias in favor of the Philippines.”

“In expressing concern over the South China Sea issue, the Group of Seven or G7 Declaration affirmed the importance of upholding the rule of law,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a statement over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

He said Adherence to the rule of law as embodied in the United Nations on Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is the cornerstone of the Philippine policy towards the issue.

“President Aquino has been determined in pursuing an advocacy for a rules-based, peaceful and diplomatic resolution of disputes on maritime entitlements in the South China Sea or West Philippine Sea and has gained broad-based support in the international community such as the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation), the G7, and in the European Union,” Coloma said during the radio interview Saturday.

Coloma said this advocacy has brought to life a typical importance of upholding freedom of navigation and freedom of overflight and has been the basis for the Philippines’ decision to file a petition with the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

The move of the Philippines has been welcomed and encouraged by many nations, according to Coloma.

Coloma also brushed off accusations that the US is intervening in the arbitration process noting there is no basis for China’s allegations.

In the international meetings attended by the Philippines like the ASEAN, APEC and US-ASEAN Special Summit in California last February, President Barack Obama backed the principle of adherence to the rule of law.

“Sa lahat naman ng pagkakataon, ang nasaksihan lamang natin ay ang pagpapahayag ng Estados Unidos kaisa ang iba pang mga bansa sa mundo ng paniniwala nila sa mga batayang prinsipyo na katulad nga din ‘nang freedom of navigation at freedom of overflight,” he said.

The group of G7 countries meeting in Japan this week, has sent a strong message underscoring the need to observe the rule of law in resolving territorial row in the East Sea and the South China Sea. PND (as)