MANILA, Philippines – Despite obliging President Rodrigo Duterte's demand for options to enforce the Hague ruling aside from war against China, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio got the cold shoulder from Malacañang.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo dismissed 6 suggestions made by Carpio and insisted Duterte's decision to stay on China's good side is the "best" course of action.
Panelo said Duterte's "way" ensures China and the Philippines will continue bilateral negotiations about the maritime dispute.
"Still, the best 'yung negotiation pa rin. 'Yun pa rin ang No. 1. Mag-uusap tayo," said Panelo on Monday, July 15, during a Palace news briefing.
(Still, the best is negotiation. That is the No. 1 option. Let's talk.)
The spokesman also claimed Duterte himself had studied the options Carpio presented, and supposedly found them wanting.
"For now, the President has studied all that and he chose the most intelligent, the least dangerous solution and that's why there are diplomatic relations because all misunderstandings between countries will be resolved through dialogue," said Panelo.
But so far, Duterte has not asserted the Hague ruling in his meetings with Chinese leadership, though he did remind Chinese President Xi Jinping of its existence once in a bilateral meeting.
Duterte has stuck to the line that asserting the Hague ruling would only make China declare war against the Philippines.
While the Philippines and China have engaged in talks on the sea dispute since May 2017, critics and maritime experts point out that these have not stopped China's militarization in the South China Sea, buildup of artificial islands in Philippine waters, and other forms of aggression.
Rejecting war as the only option to assert the Hague ruling, Carpio had suggested the Philippines form a convention with other countries with claims in the South China Sea, deploy Navy ships to patrol the West Philippine Sea, and encourage freedom of navigation and overflight operations by other countries in the South China Sea.
Carpio said Duterte's projection of war as the only other option is a "hollow attempt to scare our people into submission to China." – Rappler.com