By Argyll Geducos 

Malacañang said that President Duterte will still raise the issue of the Arbitral Ruling on the West Philippine Sea during his upcoming working visit to China this month even if the Asian giant still won’t recognize it.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo made the statement after Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jinhua said that China will not budge on its position that it owns most part of the disputed South China Sea.

Zhao also expressed doubt that Duterte will really bring up the Hague Ruling during his bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

In a radio interview, Panelo said that there is nothing wrong if China does not recognize the ruling.

“That’s the position and right of China not to budge on their position, in the same way that it is our right not to budge in ours. Ganoon talaga ‘yan eh (That’s how it is). Pero that will not stop the President from raising the issue of the Arbitral Ruling,” he said.

“When friends meet, they can always discuss anything under the sun. And if friendship is present, then both parties will be open to any discussion. Pag-uusapan lang naman (They’ll just talk about it anyway),” he added.

Last week, Duterte revisited his promise to raise the Hague Ruling with China before his term ends. According to the President, the time has come for the two countries to finally talk about it.

In his interview, Panelo said that there is nothing wrong with Duterte raising the Philippines victory in the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

“Wala namang masama doon na i-raise niya yung issue (There’s nothing wrong if he raises the issue),” he said.

“Ano ba naman yung sabihin niya, ‘Oo nga pala, ano’ng gagawin natin dito sa ruling na ginawa ng isang international court? Alam ko hindi mo kinikilala pero siguro pag-usapan pa rin natin, baka magawan pa rin natin ng paraan.’ Wala namang masama doon (He’ll just tell them that there’s a ruling and they should still talk and do something about it even if they don’t recognize it. There’s nothing wrong with that),” he added.

Panelo then reiterated that talking is still the best way to resolve the issue.

“Kaya nga tayo pumapasok sa (That’s why we are going into a) friendlier network of settling differences which is negotiation. Baka yung hindi natin nakukuha sa pag-i-invoke niyan eh baka makuha natin sa pakikipag-usap (Because we might get the things we need but can’t because we are invoking our rights),” he said.

Oil exploration

Meanwhile, Panelo reiterated that the Philippines can proceed with the oil exploration deal with China because Filipinos own it.

“Kung ikaw ang may-ari, pwede mong ipagamit o ipahiram, o pwedeng dalawa kayo ang gumamit (If you are the owner, you can lend something to another person or you can use it both). In other words, that very act alone shows that you are the owner kasi pumapayag ka (because you agreed),” he said.

“Kung hindi naman ikaw ang (If you are not the) owner, how can you give permission on a particular thing if you do not own it, what you can’t give,” he added.

Panelo also reiterated that China will not go beyond its 40 percent share if the oil exploration deal will push through.

“Sinabi na nga ng Ambassador ng Tsina na hindi sila hihingi, kung matuloy man, ng mas malaking bahagi diyan sa Pilipinas (The Chinese Ambassador already said that if this pushes through, they will not ask for more than what the Philippines will get),” he said.