Incoming Kabayan party-list Representative Harry L. Roque on Thursday said diplomacy is the country’s best bet for a positive outcome in the West Philippine Sea issue as he expressed relief that President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has a concrete policy concerning the territorial dispute.
“I agree that diplomacy must be resorted to again,” Roque said.
He added the “pendency of arbitration should not have precluded diplomacy in the first place.”
“Just like any case pending in court, the arbitration should have led to intensified diplomacy to arrive at an out of court settlement,” Roque said.
A recognized expert on international law, Roque served as the director of the University of the Philippines Law Center’s Institute of International Legal Studies for the past 15 years.
He is also a seasoned international litigator and sits on the board of the Asian Society of International Law and the International Criminal Bar.
Duterte earlier met with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhu in Davao.
According to the Chinese ambassador, the incoming president expressed willingness to improve ties and increase bilateral cooperation between the Philippines and China.
Duterte previously maintained that the Scarborough Shoal, one of the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea, “belongs to our exclusive economic zone.”