World support for PH arbitral award doesn't affect ruling's legal stature: Locsin

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 10 2020 12:02 AM

Foreign Sec. Teodoro Locsin Jr. Emmanuel Dunand, AFP/File

MANILA - Foreign Affairs Sec. Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Friday that while the Philippines welcomes international support for its 2016 UN arbitral award that invalidated China’s sweeping claim over the South China Sea, the support does not add “an iota to the legal stature of the award.”

Delivering the Philippine statement for the Non-Aligned Movement Ministerial Meeting via video message, Locsin said the Philippines won the award “with zero help from anybody and with great hindrance from most.”

International support, he added, was “better late than never.”

Locsin said the Philippines can depend only on itself and international law, including the 2016 arbitral award, amid geopolitical tensions in the South China Sea.

”Geopolitical tensions in the South China Sea persist. The Philippines depends on one thing only, okay, two: itself and international law, of which UNCLOS and the 2016 Arbitral Award are a part," he stressed.

“The Philippines won the award with zero help from anybody and with great hindrance from most. It welcomes international support for the award, better late than never.

"But it no way does the Philippines acknowledge that support as adding an iota to the legal stature of the award.”

Locsin cited the importance of science in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and echoed President Rodrigo Duterte’s call for the vaccine to be made available to all, rich and poor nations alike” and ”must be considered a global public good.”

In his first speech at the United Nations General Assembly since taking office, Duterte rejected last month what he called attempts to undermine the Philippines’ victory in the 2016 ruling on the South China Sea.

Duterte said his administration is keeping its commitment to international agreements with the territorial row in the South China Sea, which the country calls the West Philippine Sea.