Palace welcomes Joma’s ‘pro-govt’ stand on territorial row

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MALACAÑANG on Sunday welcomed Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Maria Sison’s “pro-government” stance on the sea disputes with China, saying that such statement bodes well for the pursuit of peace between the government and the communist movement.

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“All expressions of support from within and outside the country are gladly accepted. We hope that all sectors of society and all our countrymen will back up our country’s position on this,” said Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.

On Friday, Sison expressed his support for the filing of a memorial last week against China before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) which questions the mainland’s nine-dash line territorial claims over shoals and islets in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

Sison, chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), said that it was better for Manila to make a strong case before the ITLOS than ignore China’s bullying.

“In the first place, filing the case before ITLOS and the Arbitral Tribunal is not a violent act at all, no matter how China presents it as a hostile act. Had the Philippines desisted from filing the case, China would have certainly used the desistance as proof of a lack of conviction and interest in the case,” Sison said.

On March 30, the government filed the country’s memorial before the United Nations which questions China’s nine-dash line territorial rule that encroached islets and shoals in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone .

The memorandum or “memorial” in the language of international law contains all pertinent legal bases and other arguments supporting the country’s claim over its territories.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, in a statement, said that the Philippines’ memorial was submitted in conformity with the Rules of Procedure adopted by the five-member Arbitral Tribunal last August, which established March 30, 2014 as the due date for its submission.

He said the Philippines made the right decision in filing its case before ITLOS, and in particular the Arbitral Tribunal, as the chosen mechanism for arbitration regarding the islands or islets west of the Philippines.

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