'It's a free world': DFA's Locsin says China can disagree with PH on arbitral award

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 22 2020 03:41 PM

MANILA - China does not have to agree with the Philippines' legal victory for maritime entitlements in the West Philippine Sea, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Wednesday as he touted that Manila has the law on its side.

Locsin, who earlier said that the 2016 landmark arbitral award is "non-negotiable," said Beijing is free to refuse to recognize the ruling that invalidated its sweeping claims over the resource-rich waters.

"It's a free world. You want me to get angry at China because they express their own opinion? Come on," Locsin said in a virtual press briefing.

"The point is, we won it. If they don't want to recognize it, okay, they can say that. But we know we have the law on our side. We have the Hague on our side," he added.

Beijing refuses to recognize the Permanent Court of Arbitration's ruling and has ramped up its militarization efforts in the vital waterway.

On the fourth anniversary of the award last week, the Chinese embassy in Manila called the decision "illegal and invalid."

"It's a free world, they don't have to agree with us," Locsin said.

"We don't always have to be angry all the time. What's wrong with that?" he added.

Locsin said the maritime dispute with China "doesn't mean that we can't be friends or we can't work together."

"We have been very forthright in our claims and we have stood by our claims and we have done it with openness and in the spirit of friendship," he said.

The Duterte administration opted to shelve the award to establish friendlier relations with China for economic benefits. 

President Rodrigo Duterte raised the award a few times before Chinese President Xi Jinping, only to be told of Beijing's consistent rejection of it.