MANILA—Sen. Koko Pimentel said Wednesday he supports President Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to raise Manila’s arbitral victory against Beijing in the South China Sea when he visits China later this month.
“Since they are friends and they treat each other as real friends, the president even said they enter into verbal agreement," he told reporters at a PDP-Laban event in Makati City.
"It means he should feel free to bring up anything before President Xi Jinping. If he wants to bring up the arbitral ruling, okay lang po 'yun,” he added.
Pimentel downplayed concerns it could trigger a war between the 2 countries.
“Hindi naman. Kaya nga sila nag-uusap eh. Mayroon bang nag-uusap tapos mag-aaway?” he said.
In 2016, the Philippines won a case at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which invalidated China’s claim to sovereignty over most of the South China Sea.
It also made clear that the potentially oil-rich Recto (Reed) Bank was inside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the West Philippine Sea. China does not recognize the ruling and has instead ramped up its militarization efforts in the vital waterway.