MALACAÑANG on Thursday rejected the Chinese ambassador’s call for Manila to drop its arbitration complaint against Beijing and resolve its territorial row over the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) on a bilateral level.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said Manila is determined to reach a final ruling on its case against China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Netherlands.
“Our objective is clear: To get the Permanent Court of Arbitration to rule on the dispute and give meaning to the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which counts the Philippines as a signatory,” he told reporters in Filipino.
Coloma was reacting to Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua’s pronouncement on
Wednesday that his country still hopes the Philippines will withdraw its arbitration case against his country.
Zhao again called on Manila to engage Beijing in bilateral negotiations.
Coloma, however, said the Philippines’ “rules-based” and multilateral approach to settling the dispute remains unchanged.
In March, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario revealed that Manila resorted to arbitration after over 50 attempts to deal with Beijing on a bilateral level ended in failure.
The Chinese ambassador issued the statement during a celebration to mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Republic of the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China or the night before the deadline for the Philippines to submit its written arguments to the UN tribunal.
Earlier this month, the Philippines presented its arguments before the arbitral tribunal in The Hague on why it should exercise its jurisdiction over the arbitration case against China.
The Netherlands-based tribunal may hand down a ruling on the case by the first quarter of 2016.