MANILA - International arbitration for the Philippines' claims in the Spartly Islands and Scarborough Shoal will continue even without China's cooperation, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Friday.
He said Beijing's rejection of the Philippines' notification on arbitration will be favorable to Manila.
"Whether they reject it or not, the case will proceed even if they do not participate," Gazmin told media at Camp Aguinaldo.
"That's better for us. If they are not going to participate, it (case) will proceed," he added.
Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Ma Keqing has sent a note verbale to the Department of Affairs (DFA) rejecting the Philippines' "position (on the Spratly Islands and areas in the West Philippine Sea) and is returning the notification and statement of claim."
The DFA said it will pursue international arbitration despite China's rejection.
Meanwhile, officials from the Philippines and Japan held on Friday a dialogue on cooperation in maritime safety and security.
DFA Assistant Secretary Gilberto Asuque led the Philippine delegation while the Japanese side was led by Kenji Kanasugi, deputy director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The 2 sides discussed maritime security, freedom of navigation and safety at sea.
Thy delegations shared the view that the West Philippine Sea issue is a matter of great interest for the international community as it relates to regional peace and stability.