By EJ Roque, PNA
MANILA — Malacañang said Friday night that the Philippine government “remains steadfast” in its claim on disputed territories and exclusive economic zones (EEZs) after China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Spratlys, which China calls the Nansha Islands, are within Chinese territory.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said an arbitral ruling has already been rendered even if the Philippines concurs with Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Lu Kang’s statement that the dispute can be best threshed out through peaceful negotiation and consultation between the two countries.
“We remain steadfast in maintaining our claims with respect to our territory and exclusive economic zones pursuant not only to the said arbitral judgment based on accepted principles of public international law but consistent with the directives of our Constitution and the aspirations of the Filipino people,” he said.
Panelo, also Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, said China should avoid performing acts that would place Filipino fishermen’s fishing in the disputed areas at risk. He warned that this could “cause irritants that will disrupt the current friendly relations of the two countries, as well as imperil future bilateral negotiations on matters of mutual concern.”
“It is our principled stand that the peace in the West Philippine Sea should be maintained,” he said.
“As a matter of protocol, we expect our Philippine counterpart, the Department of Foreign Affairs, to issue an official statement on the matter,” he added.
Panelo earlier noted that despite the sea row, China gave the Philippines PHP370-million worth of arms and ammunition during the Marawi siege in 2017 and funded a 150-bed rehabilitation center in Agusan del Sur.
He said part of the country’s effort to reciprocate China’s assistance is to be “diplomatically kind” while asserting Philippine sovereignty. (PNA)