07/14/2016, 10.32
PHILIPPINES - CHINA
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Manila: Beijing must respect South China Sea ruling

The Philippine foreign minister prepared to raise the issue in the euro-Asia Summit scheduled for tomorrow. Beijing replies: "is not the right place" to do so. Filipino bishops concerned about migrants in China. The appeal of Msgr. Santos: "Do not mention the dispute in public and on social networks."

Manila (AsiaNews) - China should abide by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (CPA) ruling on the Law of the Sea, under which Beijing "has no right" to sovereignty over disputed territories in the South China Sea. This is according to a statement released by Manila, two days after the historic - although not binding - verdict of the Hague Tribunal regarding the disputes in the waters of the Asia-Pacific region.

Beijing yesterday branded the international tribunal that issued the sentence as "failed", reiterating its sovereignty over the islands and atolls of contention. The Beijing leadership claims to have been "the first to have discovered, named, explored and exploited" the area, exercising  "continuous and peaceful" sovereignty and jurisdiction.

The Manila government, in an official note of the Philippine Foreign Minister, Perfecto Yasay, has responded announcing its intention to discuss the dispute in the context of the two-day Asia-Europe summit (ASEM) which will open tomorrow in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, in the presence of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

Minister Yasay will attend the conference on behalf of the president-elect Rodrigo Duterte and "will raise the issue in the context of ASEM agenda". Manila intends to continue a "peaceful and rules-based approach" to resolve disputes in the South China Sea. The government also calls on "all parties to respect the decision".

The new president Duterte, who has so far maintained a softer approach toward China and a more diplomatic stance on the dispute, has called the ruling a "milestone". He did not, however, want to celebrate the judges' decision, continuing the low-profile policy and again reaffirming the proposal of sharing natural resources with Beijing.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government has already said that the summit in Mongolia "is not the right place" to discuss the issue, which should be excluded "from the agenda" as announced by Vice-Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou.

The political and social repercussions of the Hague court ruling are a source of concern even among the Filipino bishops. The focus is on migrants who live and work in China, who could be subject to attacks or reprisals by nationalist movements or individuals.

 

Msgr. Ruperto Santos, Bishop of Balanga and president of the Episcopal Commission for the welfare of migrants and overseas workers of the Bishops Conference (CBCP), invites his fellow citizens "not to mention" the matter in public for "security reasons." "We invite the Filipino migrants - says the bishop - to maintain a responsible, respectful attitude and low profile. There is no need to debate the issue in public. " He also urges his fellow citizens living in China not to form groups, and not to mention the decision on social media and online forums.

As an "Oratio Imperata" Last year, Filipino bishops had promoted peace in the South China Sea.

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